Jun 22, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Kevin Hassett to leave White House this summer

Kevin Hassett stands in front of a microphone outside the White House
Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

White House adviser Kevin Hassett will leave the administration this summer, after returning in March to help the president respond to the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, according to two administration officials.

Why it matters: Hassett has shown an ability to translate economic numbers into tangible terms for the president, steering Trump to support more stimulus and relief. His departure could cede power to administration officials who oppose a $2 trillion package and worry about the deficit.

  • Hassett's exit will deprive the president of another voice defending him on cable TV.
  • It also drains more in-house expertise ahead of the election. Andrew Olmem, a deputy on the National Economic Council, left his post on Friday.

Details: Hassett, who served as Trump’s first Council of Economic Advisers chair, has consistently warned about the economic downsides from the pandemic and has pushed for more spending to combat an unemployment rate that he’s warned could hit 23%.

  • Hassett has been cautious about the health dangers of COVID-19, promoting the use of face masks.
  • He's also argued — both internally and on television — for a large phase four economic package, including more direct payments to individuals and extending unemployment insurance benefits.

The bottom line: Hassett is an unpaid adviser and always planned for his White House return to be temporary. After leaving his CEA post in the spring, he had been serving as a distinguished visiting fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution and vice president and managing director of The Lindsey Group. He'll return to those positions.

  • The president can keep Hassett on speed dial. But Hassett will be leaving before the final stretch of Trump's re-election bid and as the White House tries to make sense of some dizzying numbers in an economic and health crisis with both short- and long-term challenges.
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