Former Ways and Means Aide Considered as Cohn Replacement

Source: Shahira Knight in running for chief economic adviser role

Top White House economic adviser Gary Cohn and National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster brief reporters on Jan. 23. Cohn announced this week he is leaving that position. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Shahira Knight, special assistant to President Donald Trump for tax and retirement policy, is under consideration to replace departing Gary Cohn as chief economic adviser, according to a senior White House official.

“She is very well respected here,” the senior official told Roll Call. “She has done a great job.”

The official declined to say whether Knight has made any short list for the position, which comes with a second-floor West Wing office just steps from the Oval Office.

“But I won’t waive you off that,” the official said.

Knight, who came to White House after several years of working at Fidelity Investments, is a former senior adviser to the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, a position that charged her with overseeing the panel’s legislative and policy processes. She also worked for the Joint Economic Committee focusing on budget and tax issues.

Knight has the backing of several Republican senators and aides, including Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio.

“I think she should be considered and she would be very good,” Portman said Wednesday.

GOP members are alarmed by the pending departure of Cohn, a former Goldman Sachs executive whom they viewed as a calming, pro-trade force on economic issues capable of countering nationalist voices in Trump’s orbit. Cohn announced his resignation this week amid a dispute with Trump over coming tariffs.

“This is Gary Cohn’s last Cabinet meeting,” Trump said Thursday. “He’s been terrific. He may be a globalist, but I still like him. He’s seriously globalist, no question, but he’s also a nationalist because he loves our country.”

Several conservative groups are pushing Larry Kudlow, an economic adviser to former President Ronald Reagan and now a CNBC host. Also reported to be on the list is Peter Navarro, Trump’s top trade adviser.

Navarro shares Trump’s nationalist views and is scheduled to pick up a big victory later Thursday when Trump signs a pair of proclamations setting in motion imports on steel and aluminum from all countries but Mexico and Canada.

“Aluminum and steel are the backbone of our nation,” Trump said Thursday. “Other previous great presidents protected our country from outside nations. … We’re going to protect the American worker.”

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