U.S. Markets

Trump says did not threaten to demote Fed's Powell: NBC interview

Slideshow ( 2 images )

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said on Sunday on NBC’s ‘Meet the Press’ news program that he has the power to demote Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell but has not threatened to do so.

“I didn’t ever threaten to demote him,” Trump said. “I’d be able to do that if I wanted to, but I haven’t suggested that.”

Trump has been pressuring the Fed to cut interest rates for months, a campaign that began last October when he said the U.S. central bank had “gone crazy” under Powell after several rate hikes.

The Fed on Wednesday said it was ready to battle growing global and domestic economic risks with interest rate cuts beginning as early as next month. The central bank left its benchmark interest rate unchanged for now.

A day later, Trump said that the Fed should have lowered rates sooner, but “you can’t win ‘em all.” He added that eventually Powell “will do what’s right, perhaps. Let’s see what he does.”

Bloomberg reported on Tuesday that the White House counsel’s office in February had explored the possibility of stripping the Fed chairmanship from Powell and demoting him to a member of the Fed board of governors.

In the Meet the Press interview recorded on Friday, Trump repeated that he was “not happy” with Powell’s actions. “No I don’t think he’s doing a good job.”

Trump said former President Barack Obama had a Federal Reserve chairman “that kept rates very low. I had somebody that raised the rates very rapidly. Too much. He made a mistake.”

Reporting by Kevin Drawbaugh; Editing by Phil Berlowitz