Larry Kudlow to replace Gary Cohn as Trump's top economic advisor

Key Points
  • Larry Kudlow will take the job of top economic advisor to President Donald Trump.
  • He would replace Gary Cohn as National Economic Council director.
  • Kudlow is a free trade advocate who may disagree with some of Trump's protectionist views.
Here's what Larry Kudlow thinks about trade, tariffs and Trump
Here's what Larry Kudlow thinks about trade, tariffs and Trump

Larry Kudlow will take the job of top economic advisor to President Donald Trump, replacing Gary Cohn.

On Wednesday, Kudlow and the White House confirmed the economist and senior CNBC contributor accepted the post of National Economic Council director. The president offered Kudlow the job on Tuesday night after other conversations between the pair on Sunday and Monday.

"I've known him and interviewed him for over 20 years. I'm very comfortable with him and I can't wait to start," Kudlow told CNBC.

In a statement, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the administration "will work to have an orderly transition and keep everyone posted on the timing of him officially assuming the role."

Kudlow, 70, is set to replace Gary Cohn, who resigned last week after losing his fight against tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. Kudlow advocates for free trade and generally opposes tariffs. Kudlow said he has been in near constant contact with Cohn in recent weeks.

When Cohn left, Kudlow expressed his disappointment with the move and Trump's tariff actions. However, he has appeared to warm to at least some targeted trade actions.

Trump to name Larry Kudlow as top White House economist
Trump to name Larry Kudlow as top White House economist

On Tuesday, the president said he would welcome disagreement from Kudlow if he chose him for the post.

"We don't agree on everything, but in this case I think that's good," Trump said. "I want to have different opinions. We agree on most. He now has come around to believing in tariffs as a negotiating point."

Kudlow told CNBC he got a call from Trump on Tuesday night as he got into an Uber after dinner. He had a conversation with the president in the car, and the driver "had never seen anything like this," Kudlow said.

By bringing in Kudlow, Trump adds an advisor who supports his push for lower taxes, fewer regulations and a so-called merit-based immigration system. But he may find an occasional critic of his trade policies.

The National Economic Council director advises the president on economic issues and works to implement policy goals. Cohn helped to shepherd the Republican tax overhaul, Trump's signature achievement in office so far, through its passage in December. Kudlow also supported the tax bill, and told CNBC "there may be more action on that front."

Trump won the presidency partly on his promises to shred or renegotiate U.S. trade deals and crack down on trade practices he deems unfair. He argued that the North American Free Trade Agreement, in particular, sapped manufacturing jobs from the United States.

On Wednesday, Kudlow told The Associated Press he opposed Trump's tariffs but is "in accord with his policies."

Kudlow was a budget aide during the Reagan administration. He was chief economist at Bear Stearns from 1987 to 1994. He informally advised Trump on taxes and other economic issues during his 2016 run for president.

Talking to CNBC on Wednesday, he highlighted his "strong relationships" with lawmakers in Congress. Kudlow said House Speaker Paul Ryan called him in recent days and "is very, very enthusiastic" about him taking the job.

He added he is "looking forward to working with" Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and noted that trade advisor Peter Navarro was a regular guest on the CNBC show "The Kudlow Report." Navarro, who has pushed for aggressive actions to counter China's trade practices, sparred with Cohn over tariffs.

Kudlow said his job will be "not to rehash things but to execute" policy.

"I'm looking forward to serving the president," he said. "The way I was brought up in the Reagan years, you talk it out and you argue it out, but once the president has made a decision, that's it. My job is to execute. You don't go through these endless bureaucratic things and delays. The National Economic Council is in some ways an information broker and I look forward to that role."

WATCH: Challenges for incoming NEC Chair Larry Kudlow

Challenges for incoming NEC Chair Larry Kudlow
Challenges for incoming NEC Chair Larry Kudlow