Taking an apparent break from what had been (at least) a monthly exchange for four straight months, the June calendar for the chair of the Federal Reserve, released Wednesday, showed no meetings or conversations with the president of the United States.
The calendar for Fed Chair Jerome H. (“Jay”) Powell, made public by the agency about one month following the end of the previous month (as per Fed custom), shows no phone conversations or meetings between the chair and President Donald Trump. Prior to June, according to the chair’s calendar, Powell and Trump had spoken – either by telephone or in person – once a month since February.
Prior to a February dinner at the White House, the two had not spoken in about a year. Contact following that dinner was typically a short telephone call once a month.
Trump has been a strong and recurring critic of the Fed’s actions on interest rates.The president has repeatedly urged the central bank to change policy course, particularly when the central bank’s rate-setting committee was raising rates.
In mid-June, reports surfaced that – early in the year –the White House explored a legal way to demote Powell as board chair as Trump ramped up his criticism of the central bank leader. Later that month (June 19), at a press conference following a meeting of the Fed’s rate-setting committee (the Federal Open Market Committee), Powell told reporters that “I think the law is clear: I have three years left of a term and I fully intend to serve it.” He expanded a bit on that response in another comment during the press conference, asserting that “the Federal Reserve is answerable to Congress; there will be no political interference.”
In July, during a hearing before the House Financial Services Committee, Powell said he would not step down if Trump ordered him to do so or declared he was fired from his position.
Responding to a hypothetical question from committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), Powell said “of course I would not do that” if Trump called him today (or tomorrow) and asked him to step down or fired him.