WASHINGTON — An economic adviser to President Trump will take over as his main liaison to Congress, officials said Thursday, a change of guard in a position vital to the White House’s effort to win Senate confirmation for Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.
Shahira Knight, who served as a deputy director at the National Economic Council under its former director, Gary D. Cohn, will take over from Marc Short as the director of White House legislative affairs, officials said. Mr. Short had planned his departure weeks ago; his last day is Friday.
Mr. Short, a long-serving aide to Vice President Mike Pence when he was a congressman, joined Mr. Trump’s staff when he took office. During Mr. Short’s tenure, the office of legislative affairs confirmed nearly two dozen judges as part of a concerted effort by the White House to remake the federal courts. His office played a key role in working with Congress to pass the huge tax bill last year, as well as on legislation reforming the scandal-plagued Veterans Affairs Department.
Ms. Knight also worked with Congress on the tax package, and she had been the initial choice of John F. Kelly, the White House chief of staff, to replace Mr. Short after he made clear months ago that he planned to leave in the summer.
But Mr. Trump initially declined to give her the job, and the White House looked at other possible candidates. However, mindful of having yet another staff hole to fill, they ended up giving her the position as Mr. Short’s departure date drew closer.
Ms. Knight initially told people she was not interested, and had planned to leave the administration. But she changed her mind when presented with the chance to stay.
Ms. Knight was once a staff member on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, and she has some relationships in Congress.
But among some of the more conservative House members, there were private complaints on Thursday that she would try, as others in the White House have, to steer the president toward a more moderate agenda on a range of domestic issues.