Trump Taps Former Wall Street Banker to Head Federal Reserve
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Trump Taps Former Wall Street Banker to Head Federal Reserve

Powell to Replace Yellen at the U.S. Central Bank

Jerome H. Powell, left

Money man. Trump is nominating Jerome H. Powell to become chairman of the Federal Reserve System when Janet Yellen’s term expires on Feb. 3.  Powell is a former investment banker but, unlike the past three Fed leaders, lacks a Ph.D. in economics. Powell, who has been on the Fed’s board of governors since 2012, never dissented from Yellen on Fed votes.

Powell is a graduate of Princeton University and has a law degree from Georgetown. He worked at a Wall Street investment bank before serving as a senior Treasury official under former President George H.W. Bush and later was a partner in the private equity firm Carlyle Group. He is one of the wealthiest members of the Fed’s board with assets valued between $19.7 million and $54.9 million.

Yellen oversaw the Fed as its go-slow approach to interest rate hikes helped nurture the continued recovery from the Great Recession, but Trump is replacing her. Yellen is the first Fed leader in decades not to be offered a second term after completing a first. Yellen’s term on the board lasts until 2024. She hasn’t said whether she plans to remain.

Unreal science. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), the chairman of the House science committee who has questioned the science behind climate change, won’t run for re-election next year. Smith has repeatedly sought to reshape the National Science Foundation and has launched dozens of probes into alleged wrongdoing by individual scientists and U.S. government science agencies. “I think (Smith’s) position on peer review, on the NSF and climate science put him at odds with the science community,” said physicist Neal Lane, who served as NSF director and White House science adviser to former President Bill Clinton. “But it was consistent with that of the leadership in the House, which can hardly be described as pro-science.”

Jeff Sessions (far left) meets with Trump and other campaign officials in a 2016 “national security” meeting. George Papadopoulos (second from left, facing Sessions) has pleaded guilty to lying to federal agents about the campaign’s contacts with Russians.

Russian contacts. Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions said earlier this year that no campaign advisers had contact with the Russians, but court documents unsealed this week show George Papadopoulos, a foreign policy adviser, had frequent discussions with Russians in 2016 and told Trump and Sessions about them.

Trump was asked at a February news conference if he was aware of anyone who advised his campaign having contacts with Russia during the election. “No,” Trump said. “Nobody that I know of. Nobody.” The White House is trying to portray Papadopoulos as an insignificant figure in the campaign.

In other developments, CNN reported that First Son-in-Law Jared Kushner has turned over documents to special counsel Robert Mueller as investigators have begun asking about Kushner’s role in the firing of FBI Director James Comey. The questions about Kushner signal that Mueller’s investigators are reaching Trump’s inner circle and have extended beyond the 2016 campaign to actions taken at the White House by high-level officials.

November 3, 2017