White House Names Olmem, Willems as Acting Deputies to Kudlow

(Bloomberg) -- The White House has elevated two aides on trade and financial policy to temporarily serve in top posts on the National Economic Council as disputes with the U.S.’s biggest trading partners heat up.

Andrew Olmem will become acting deputy director for domestic policy, and Clete Willems will be acting deputy director for international policy, the White House said Monday.

“Andrew and Clete have both been great assets to the NEC,” White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said in a statement. NEC Director Larry Kudlow “is looking forward to having them in these new roles following the impending departures of Shahira Knight and Everett Eissenstat,” she said.

Olmem is currently special assistant to the president for financial policy. He previously worked as an attorney on the Senate Banking Committee and was a leading staff negotiator on the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act. Olmem takes the place of Shahira Knight, who played a key role in crafting the tax bill that Republicans passed last year. Knight is headed to the Clearing House Association, a banking lobbying group.

Willems is currently special assistant to the president for international trade, investment and development, and will replace Everett Eissenstat, who announced his departure last week. Willems previously worked for the U.S Trade Representative and as legal adviser to the U.S. Mission to the World Trade Organization. He has also worked as an aide to House Speaker Paul Ryan.

President Donald Trump has levied tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, drawing retaliatory penalties from Canada and the European Union. U.S. tariffs against Chinese goods are set to take effect on Friday.

On Monday Trump said that the World Trade Organization treats the U.S. “very badly,” but that he wasn’t currently planning to withdraw from the body or take any other action.

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