President 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 D. Cohn, according to two people briefed on the discussions.
Mr. Trump has not made a firm decision, those briefed on the process said. But Mr. Liddell, the White House’s director of strategic initiatives, is currently seen as a front-runner to replace Mr. Cohn as the director of the National Economic Council, they said.
Mr. Cohn announced his resignation this past week after a battle over the president’s economic policy and his longstanding desire to impose large tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.
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.
Since joining the administration in early 2017, Mr. 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 the former chief financial officer of Microsoft and General Motors, Mr. Liddell has the sort of experience that could fulfill the president’s interest in someone with a corporate résumé who is also known to his existing staff, the officials said.
Mr. 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 and execute the company’s return to the public market.
Shahira Knight, a well-respected deputy to Mr. Cohn who was crucial to the legislation revamping the tax code, had been the favored candidate of Mr. Cohn, some White House officials and several Republican congressional aides. But Ms. Knight, who prefers a lower profile, was uninterested, officials said.
A White House spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment.