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Trump names Larry Kudlow to top White House economic job

Kudlow would replace outgoing National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, who resigned from the White House earlier this month.

WASHINGTON — Larry Kudlow will serve as President Trump's top economic adviser, the White House said Wednesday.

“Larry Kudlow was offered, and accepted, the position of Assistant to the President for Economic Policy and Director of the National Economic Council," Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed in a statement. "We will work to have an orderly transition and will keep everyone posted on the timing of him officially assuming the role.”

"I'm honored to take this position," an emotional Kudlow told CNBC anchors Wednesday, saying "the hardest part" of his new role would be leaving the network. Kudlow has been a CNBC senior contributor and frequently appears on air.

He headed off questions about widely reported internal White House disputes over policy with an early promise to "never make it personal."

The CNBC commentator replaces former National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, who resigned earlier this month after clashing with the president over controversial steel and aluminum tariffs. Kudlow also was not a fan of the policy, although Trump said Tuesday that "he has now come around to believing in tariffs as a negotiating point."

On Wednesday, Kudlow praised his predecessor, Cohn, along with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. And he called White House economic aide Peter Navarro, who clashed with Cohn on tariffs and other issues, "a good friend of mine" with whom he will be "an equal" in the White House, regardless of the flow chart.

While the conservative economist may not have been in lock-step with the president on tariffs, Kudlow did reiterate his support Wednesday for Republican-passed tax cuts and deregulation efforts.

And despite being someone who "doesn't like tariffs," he said he agreed with the president that China's past actions called for them to receive "a comeuppance on trade."

Kudlow brings Wall Street, government, and media experience to the post — and, perhaps most importantly, a long-standing personal relationship with Trump.

Long before his current broadcast role, he served in the Reagan administration as an economic advisor on budget policy, later moving back to Wall Street as a senior managing director of Bear Stearns, an investment banking firm.

In recent years, he was privately an adviser, and publicly a defender, of Trump both before and after Election Day. During Trump's 2016 presidential run, he sometimes publicly thanked "the great Larry Kudlow" for his support on various economic policies laid out during the race, using the well-known economist to buoy and validate his positions.

On the South Lawn of the White House Tuesday, just hours after the surprise firing his secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, Trump praised Kudlow as "a friend of mine for a long time" and told reporters that he "has a very good chance" of taking the administration's top economic spot.

The move to install Kudlow comes amid the departures of multiple other key players from Trump's White House.