Christopher P. Liddell, a former CFO for Microsoft and later GM, joined the administration early last year and has worked closely with Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser.
President Donald Trump is strongly considering Christopher P. Liddell, a White House official who was an executive at Microsoft and General Motors, to succeed his departing top economic adviser, Gary Cohn, according to two people briefed on the discussions.
Trump has not made a firm decision, those briefed on the process said. But Liddell, the White House director of strategic initiatives, is seen as a front-runner to replace Cohn as director of the National Economic Council, they said.
A White House spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment.
Cohn announced his resignation last week after losing a battle over the president’s long-standing desire to impose large tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.
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The president has always wanted a prominent business figure to oversee the council, according to people who have spoken with him. But his aides, mindful of the difficulties they have had attracting people from outside the White House, have been looking internally. Shahira Knight, a deputy to Cohn who was crucial to the legislation revamping the tax code, had been the favored candidate of Cohn, some White House officials and several Republican congressional aides. But Knight was uninterested, officials said.
Since joining the administration in early 2017, Liddell has worked closely with Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, on efforts to streamline and update some government functions. That includes the way the government buys technology or the services it offers citizens online.
As a former chief financial officer of Microsoft and General Motors, Liddell has experience suited to fulfill the president’s interest in someone with a corporate résumé who is also known to his staff, according to officials familiar with the discussions.
Liddell, a New Zealander by birth, became Microsoft’s chief financial officer in 2005, leading the company through the economic downturn. After joining General Motors in 2010, he helped guide the automaker’s recovery from bankruptcy.