Cockburn has learned that Lawrence Kudlow, the CNBC star, former Reagan official and financier, is a major candidate to replace Gary Cohn as Donald Trump’s top economic advisor, according to a source familiar with the matter.
Other candidates include the man who forced Cohn’s departure: the tariff-loving Peter Navarro.
Also in contention are Mick Mulvaney, the former South Carolina Congressman who is currently holding down not one, but two jobs for Trump, Andy Puzder, who was once nominated, but then withdrawn for Labor Secretary, and little-known Cohn subordinate Sharira Knight.
Navarro and Kudlow are the biggest names.
And for an administration that has struggled with staffing, if Navarro were to get the nod, Cockburn has learned of the risk that most or all of Cohn’s staff on the National Economic Council would likely vacate.
Navarro would have to go on a hiring blitz and start from scratch at a time the White House is overseeing a new trade policy.
An extremely strong jobs report released Friday, however, could embolden the president to take such a course– risk-taking has mostly paid off in the life of Donald Trump.
A Kudlow choice also has clear pitfalls. Namely, he basically agrees with Gary Cohn.
American television viewers will remember Kudlow as the free-market fanatic host of “Kudlow & Company” and “Kudlow & Kramer.” He’s an absolutist.
Best friends with Art Laffer and Stephen Moore, the three form the nation’s most prominent supply side troika. Kudlow even penned an op-ed with them against the president’s most recent trade moves and he has called Cohn’s departure a possible “turn for the worse.”
Kudlow, Laffer and Moore noted their relationship and support of the president: “We know from our interactions with him that he truly cares about these workers in Pennsylvania, Ohio and other rust belt states.” But they caveated: “Ronald Reagan in the 1980s invoked anti-dumping provisions against Japanese steel. It was one of his few decisions he later confessed he wishes he hadn’t made. Trump will come to learn the same thing, and we hope it is sooner, not later.”
Given his flagrant disagreement with the president’s long-standing trade policy preferences, Kudlow would be a curious choice.