Powell, Trump rekindled fraught relationship in November with 30-minute meeting, calendar shows

The chair of the Federal Reserve and the president of the United States rekindled their sometimes-fraught relationship in November with a 30-minute meeting, ending a six-month apparent moratorium on direct engagements between the two.

According to the November calendar of Jerome H. (“Jay”) Powell, chair of the Federal Reserve Board, he and President Donald Trump – along with Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin – met for 30 minutes Nov. 18 at the White House. The calendar was posted by the Fed on its website last week. No subject matter of the meeting is listed on the calendar.

The meeting between Trump and Powell – who has been the focus of the president’s withering criticism for much of the year following action on interest rates by the Fed’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) – was the first direct interaction between the two since May. For each month March through May of last year, Trump and Powell engaged in a series of short (five-minute) phone calls, according to the Fed chairman’s calendar. After May and through October, however, Powell’s calendar has shown no calls, meetings or other engagements between Powell and Trump.

The November meeting, in fact, was the second-longest meeting between Powell and Trump. The two met for dinner in February (also with Mnuchin in tow, along with Fed Vice Chairman Richard Clarida) for a 90-minute confab. Powell released a statement after that meeting, reiterating the independence of the Fed from political pressure.

Powell’s November calendar also shows substantial engagement with Mnuchin. The two met for breakfast, meetings (including lunch), and with Trump for a total of nearly four hours (3.75 hours) in the month – the most the two have met all year, according to the calendar entries.

Meanwhile, the White House may be on the verge of formally announcing two nominees to fill empty board seats at the Federal Reserve. Politico reported Thursday that the names of Judy Shelton and Christopher Waller will be sent to the Senate “any day now.” Trump tweeted in July that he intended to nominate the two for the seats on the Fed Board.

Chair Jerome H. Powell November 2019 calendar