The White House looked into the legality of demoting Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell in February, Bloomberg News reports. The White House legal counsel reportedly examined whether it would be possible to strip the Fed chair of his position, but keep him on the Fed’s board of governors. The drastic move was reportedly first taken into consideration in February after President Trump repeatedly discussed firing Powell in December, according to people familiar with the matter. Trump made the comments after an interest-rate hike and stock-market declines. The president has ramped up pressure on the independent central bank to lower interest rates ahead of the 2020 election.
White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told reporters Tuesday that the administration was not currently taking action to change Powell’s status, adding that the Bloomberg report was a “six-month old story.” “Under the law, a Federal Reserve Board chair can only be removed for cause,” Fed spokeswoman Michelle Smith told Bloomberg in an email. The White House has yet to comment on the story.