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Trump says he never threatened to demote Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, but has the 'right' to do so

Key Points
  • "I didn't ever threaten to demote him," Trump said in an interview with NBC's Meet The Press that aired Sunday. "I'd be able to do that if I wanted, but I haven't suggested that."
  • Trump went on to criticize the Federal Reserve for raising interest rates, saying Chairman Powell made a mistake.
  • "Obama had someone who kept the rates very low," Trump said. "I had somebody who raised the rates very rapidly -- too much. He made a mistake, that's been proven." 
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President Trump on Fed's Powell: He hasn't done a good job

President Donald Trump said he never threatened to demote Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, though he maintained he has the authority to do so.

"I didn't ever threaten to demote him," Trump said in an interview with NBC's "Meet The Press" that broadcasted Sunday. "I'd be able to do that if I wanted, but I haven't suggested that."

"I have the right to do that, but I haven't said that," the president continued.

Trump went on to criticize the Federal Reserve for raising interest rates, saying Chairman Powell made a mistake.

"Obama had someone that kept the rates very low," Trump said. "I had somebody that raised the rates very rapidly -- too much. He made a mistake, that's been proven."

The Federal Reserve on Wednesday held interest rates steady, indicating that there would not be a cut in 2019. The central bank, however, forecast one to two possible rate cuts in 2020.

When asked Tuesday whether he wanted to demote Powell, Trump said: "Let's see what he does."

Bloomberg had reported that Trump considered demoting Powell in February, but White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow said the president wasn't currently considering such a move.

"It's a six-month-old story," he told reporters. "It allegedly happened six months ago and it's not happening today and therefore I have nothing to say about it. It is what it is."

Powell was asked point blank at a news conference after the Wednesday Fed meeting about how he would react if Trump said he wanted to demote him.

"I think the law is clear that I have a four-year term, and I fully intend to serve it," Powell said.

When asked whether he should address Trump's repeated criticism, the Fed chairman said he doesn't "discuss elected officials publicly or privately."

The Federal Reserve has raised interest rates seven times since Trump took office and originally indicated two more rate hikes in 2019. The central bank pivoted and adopted a more dovish stance after its hike in December sent markets reeling.

Trump has repeatedly claimed the stock market would be higher and economic growth stronger if the Fed had not raised rates.

In the same "Meet The Press" interview that broadcasted Sunday, Trump was asked whether he believed Fed policy would jeopardize 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."