WASHINGTON -- Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell told a House panel Wednesday that he would not resign if President Donald Trump ordered him to step down.
Powell, who has been excoriated by Trump on Twitter for his management of the Fed and the nation's monetary policy, told House Financial Services members he would serve out his term. He made his comments during his semi-annual testimony to the committee.
The Fed chairman also said he shared concerns among lawmakers about Facebook Inc.'s proposal to launch a cryptocurrency.
Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters opened the hearing by "addressing the current elephant in the room when it comes to monetary policy and the Fed."
"This president has made it clear that he has no understanding or respect for the independence of the Federal Reserve," said Waters, D-Calif. "Let's be clear: It is essential that the Federal Reserve maintain its independence form the executive branch."
Waters asked Powell what he would do if the president ordered him to step down.
"Of course, I would not do that," said Powell, forgetting to turn on his microphone first.
"I can't hear you," Waters replied, drawing laughs.
Microphone on, Powell reiterated his stance: "My answer would be no," he said. "The law clearly gives me a four-year term and I fully intend to serve."
The Fed has raised the benchmark interest rate nine times since 2015, up to a range of 2.25 to 2.5% in December. Since then, it has held off on further rate hikes, and many analysts now forecast a rate cut in the coming months. Inflation remains below the Fed's target of 2 percent, while leading indicators, like bond yields and slowing business investment, are raising worries of an imminent economic downturn.