Kudlow 'Frontrunner' For Trump Economic Advisor Gig

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His departure has been worrisome for Capitol Hill Republicans and business groups who have been concerned that Trump may install more protectionist economic policies amid a renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Larry Kudlow, a CNBC television commentator who has informally advised President Trump on economic issues, is now the top contender to head the National Economic Council, according to three people close to the president. According to published reports, Trump asked Cohn directly to support tariffs. "I'm renegotiating trade deals and without tariffs we wouldn't do almost as well", Trump said. Kudlow and Trump spoke on Sunday about the position and are both reportedly excited about working together on trade issues.

Cohn announced his resignation as NEC director last week in a move that was triggered by Trump's decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

A financial columnist who served in former president Ronald Reagan's administration, Kudlow was in the running for the director role while advising Trump's transition team.

Liddell, like the former Goldman Sachs executive Cohn, has a background in crunching numbers and dealing with Wall Street. "You know, I am renegotiating trade deals and without tariffs we would not do almost as well".

"And he's going to go out and make another couple of hundred million and then he's gonna maybe come back", Trump joked.

Turnover after just over a year in office is nothing new, but the Trump administration has churned through staff at a dizzying pace since taking office last January, and allies are anxious the situation could descend into a free-fall. Trump suggested last Thursday that he wouldn't replace Cohn with someone who is similarly opposed to tariffs, which were one of the principal reasons that Cohn resigned.

Kudlow recently praised Cohn on CNBC and said that he had urged him to remain at the White House. "He's done a great job", Kudlow said on the network's "Squawk Box" earlier this month.