The Slatest

Trump Denies He Threatened to Demote Powell (but Says He Has Authority to Do So)

Federal Reserve Board Chairman Jerome Powell holds a news conference after a Federal Open Market Committee meeting in Washington, DC, December 19, 2018.
Federal Reserve Board Chairman Jerome Powell holds a news conference after a Federal Open Market Committee meeting in Washington on Dec. 19.
Jim Watson/Getty Images

During his interview with NBC’s Meet the Press that aired Sunday, President Donald Trump did not mince words when it came time to talk about Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell. “I’m not happy with his actions,” Trump said of Powell. “No, I don’t think he’s done a good job.” Trump accused Powell of raising interest rates “too fast,” handicapping his administration in a way that his predecessor never experienced. “Obama had very low rates,” Trump said. “So Obama was playing with funny money. I wasn’t. I’m playing with the real stuff.”

Trump insists though that even though he raised interest rates too quickly, that won’t affect his reelection chances. “I think the economy is so strong we’re going to bull through it,” the president said. “But I’m not happy with his actions, I don’t think he’s done a good job.”

When NBC’s Chuck Todd asked Trump about his “threat to demote” Powell, the president denied that he had ever done such a thing. “I didn’t ever threaten to demote him,” Trump said. “I have the right to do that. But I haven’t said that.” Reports earlier in the week said Trump had told close advisers that he has the authority to replace Powell as Fed chairman by demoting him to board governor.

Powell dismissed the talk about his possible demotion when he was asked about the reports at a news conference Wednesday. “I think the law is clear that I have a four-year term, and I fully intend to serve it,” Powell said.