Published: Mon, June 04, 2018
Finance | By Cynthia Curry

President Trump's early jobs tweet leads to criticism from Obama officials

President Trump's early jobs tweet leads to criticism from Obama officials

I also weighed in, writing: "Trump broke with decades of protocol and commented publicly about jobs report data about an hour before they were released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics".

The report also showed that the unemployment rate dipped to 3.8 percent-the lowest in 18 years.

"Looking forward to seeing the employment numbers at 8:30 this morning", Trump tweeted this morning about an hour before 8:30 EST.

Larry Kudlow, the director of the president's National Economic Council, confirmed in an interview Friday on CNBC that he had told Trump on Thursday what would be in the jobs report, but that he didn't think the tweet violated the rule because it did not include any numbers or details.

Kudlow defended the president's tweet across a series of subsequent media appearances Friday morning, arguing Trump didn't give anything away and that his remarks were open to interpretation.

But the tweet was followed by a swift reaction from markets and a strengthening of the dollar, sparking criticism of the president's handling of sensitive information. Treasury yields rose after the tweet and ahead of the jobs report.

"He chose to tweet", Kudlow said, asserting that Trump had followed both the rules and past practices. "There wasn't a reaction beyond the markets' reactions to other (Trump) tweets", he said. He tweeted "If during the Clinton or Obama Administrations there had been a statement from POTUS or anyone senior official in the morning before the Employment Report it would have been a major scandal-with all sorts of investigations following on".

Jason Furman, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under Obama, said Trump should never again be given sight of the figures before their release.

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"He clearly knew something, and was telling us", said Eric Hunsader, the founder of Nanex, a company that supplies market data to the financial industry.

The Republican National Committee pushed back against criticism of Trump's Friday Twitter post by pointing to a comment Obama made on February 5, 2009, the day before jobs data was released. Most jobs reports are released on the first Friday of each month.

The rule states: "All employees of the Executive Branch who receive pre release distribution of information and data estimates as authorized above are responsible for assuring that there is no release prior to the official release time".

An estimated 223,000 new jobs were created last month, even better than the 190,000 new jobs projected in recent days by economic analysts.

"About two-thirds of the drop in the unemployment rate in May was because workers found jobs, while about one-third of the drop was from people leaving the labor force", wrote EPi economist Elise Gould in a blog post. "He wants to be the source of all the good information, and anything that doesn't come from him, if it in any way shows a less-than-positive aspect of his administration, he decries as fake".

Tony Fratto, a Treasury Department official who worked in George W. Bush's administration, said that while not illegal, Trump's tease could be deemed inappropriate because "you want market participants to get their data from their government in predictable, official ways, not haphazard ones".

"It's a judgment call", Kudlow said.

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