CNN BREAKING NEWS
Bush Appoints Stephen Friedman to Economic Team
Aired December 12, 2002 - 11:38 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Right now, I'm getting word there's a bit of developing news out of Washington now. More news about President Bush's economic team, perhaps another name to come out today. We've been waiting for another shoe to drop in this story.
Our John King is standing by with the latest. He's got the latest for us on that.
John, what's the word?
JOHN KING, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Leon, CNN has learned that later today, when the president is back here at the White House, he's in Philadelphia at the moment for domestic policy event, later today, Mr. Bush will make official his choice of veteran Wall Street executive Stephen Friedman to replace Larry Lindsey as the top economic official on the White House staff. Mr. Friedman will become chairman of the White House's National Economic Council. That is a position perhaps analogous to what we see as the national security adviser or the homeland security adviser, the top economic official here on the White House staff takes in information from the Commerce Department, from the Treasury Department, from the trade representative, collates that information, and is essentially the president's pointman on the economy inside the White House.
Larry Lindsey was asked to resign by the president. He was with the president since his campaign, since Governor Bush was running for president, Larry Lindsey resigning. Steve Friedman, a former close associate of the Clinton Treasury Secretary Bob Rubin. Both were executives at Goldman Sachs, the big Wall Street firm.
Steve Friedman will take the job at the White House. We are told Mr. Bush will announce it later today. Some conservatives tried to torpedo this choice. They believe Mr. Friedman is not as aggressive in his zeal for tax cuts as President Bush might be and as other conservatives might like. White House executives reject that criticism. Some conservatives mount a public campaign to try to get the president to change his mind.
We're told later this afternoon, President Bush will announce his choice, veteran Wall Street executive Steve Friedman, someone believed to have stature and credibility with the markets on wall street, will be named the top economic adviser at the White House. That rounds up a pretty dramatic shakeup of the president's economic team -- Leon.
HARRIS: Putting it mildly, John.
Friedman's name has been out for a few days. In fact, his name was actually mentioned the first day we heard John Snow's name, John Snow being the man who was tapped to be President Bush's new treasury secretary. Those names really came out the same day.
Is this resistance from a conservative quarters the reason why it's taken this much longer for Friedman to actually get the actual tap on the shoulder here or what?
KING: White House officials flatly say no. They say as a veteran Wall Street trader, Mr. Friedman has quite a complicated investment portfolio, and the White House lawyers needed time to go through the transactions to make sure everything was on the up and up. We're told everything is fine. Also Mr. Friedman has a recurring heart condition that White House officials say he wanted to check with his doctors to make sure they gave him the all-clear sign to work in a very stressful position here on the White House staff. They say that has come back positive as well.
So President Bush this afternoon will make that announcement official. I can tell you, there's some resentment inside the White House here. No one complains when groups make their views clear, and conservatives make their views clear on he every nomination, every appointment the president is considering. Some resentment here at the White House that those conservatives went public when they lost their private effort to torpedo the announcement. Mr. Bush makes it later today.
Some say it's a sign while he, himself, is a conservative, he won't let friends in the party tell him what to do.
HARRIS: All right, John King at the White House. Appreciate the update, John. Take care.
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