President Trump at a Monday meeting told Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to urge Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell to take more action to stimulate the economy in a profanity-laced tirade, the Washington Post reported.
Trump’s frustration was driven by the downturn on Wall Street caused by the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak. One White House official present during the meeting described the president’s outburst as an “eruption.”
Trump has complained frequently about Powell, who he nominated in 2017 at Mnuchin’s urging. At the Monday meeting, Trump openly contemplated removing Powell from his post, although it is unclear if the president has the legal authority to do so.
“Our pathetic, slow moving Federal Reserve, headed by Jay Powell, who raised rates too fast and lowered too late, should get our Fed Rate down to the levels of our competitor nations,” Trump wrote on Twitter on Tuesday. “They now have as much as a two point advantage, with even bigger currency help. Also, stimulate!”
Trump has also pushed for a payroll tax-cut, as well as federal aid to American oil and natural companies hit by a price war between OPEC nations and Russia.
The Wuhan coronavirus outbreak has driven down consumer spending and caused supply shocks after China imposed sweeping quarantine measures on many of its cities. Wall Street entered a bear market on Wednesday as the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1,465 points, 6 percent below Tuesday’s level and 20 percent below record highs set in February.
White House officials and other Republicans have criticized Trump’s response to the outbreak, saying certain statements by the president have exacerbated panic in the U.S. over the coronavirus.