Larry Kudlow insisted Herman Cain and Stephen Moore are worthy and brushed off questions about their qualifications
Donald Trumps controversial picks for the board of the Federal Reserve are very smart people worthy of the honour, a senior economic adviser insisted on Sunday while brushing off questions about the two mens qualifications and past behaviour.
To consternation among political opponents of the president and those who monitor the US economy, Trump has floated former Godfathers pizza chief executive Herman Cain and the economic commentator Stephen Moore for the board of the most powerful central bank in the world. Their installation would give the president two loyalist voices on the board of an institution with which he has consistently clashed.
Cain ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012 but withdrew after at least four women accused him of sexual harassment. He denies all the allegations but has admitted some sort of settlements were made.
Outlets including the Guardian have reported that the US government says Moore, who advised the Trump campaign in 2016, owes $75,000 in taxes and was held in contempt for more than $300,000 in missed payments to his wife after they divorced. Moore denies the reports about his tax and has called reporting on details from court filings regarding his divorce, including allegations about his treatment of his ex-wife, vile and vicious and underhanded.
This week, citing Guardian reporting, Democratic senators Sherrod Brown and Ron Wyden asked Moore to provide detailed financial information.
On Sunday Larry Kudlow, director of Trumps National Economic Council, appeared on CNNs State of the Union.
First of all, he said, theyre both very smart people. Second of all, lets take Mr Herman Cain.
Besides being a very successful entrepreneur and businessman, he was a board member of the Kansas City Fed and actually was the chairman of the board. His time there spans I think about a decade. Hes intimately acquainted with Federal Reserve operations and policy decisions so I think these criticisms [of his qualifications] are very unfair.
In fact, Cain was a director of the Kansas City Fed for four years, between 1992 and 1996. He was chairman in his last two years on the board.
Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney also voiced support for Cain, in an appearance on Fox News Sunday in which he also said Democrats would never get to see Trumps tax returns.
I think Herman would be a great member of the Fed, Mulvaney said.
Kudlow fended off questions about Cains past support for policies outside the mainstream of US economic thought, and said Trump has every right to put people on the Federal Reserve board with a different point of view to current leadership.
Potus is very well informed, Kudlow said. Hes a successful investor, hes a successful businessman, he wants people on the Fed who share his philosophy. This is not a political issue, its an issue of how do you see the world.
One of Cains accusers, Sharon Bialek, alleges that in 1997 he attempted to touch her genitals and brought her head towards his crotch, then when she protested said: You want a job, right?
This week, Bialek told the Washington Post she did not wish Cain anything ill, but I dont think he should be awarded this position. Instead of being punished, Trump is rewarding him.
Asked about such claims, Kudlow said there was a vetting process and added: Theres big disputes here. Mr Cain disagrees with this point of view, Im not going to litigate that here.
He also said the political atmosphere in Washington was very toxic and seemed to cast doubt on claims against Cain by comparing them to allegations against Brett Kavanaugh that the judge denied and which did not derail his progress to the supreme court as Trumps second pick.
Look, Kudlow said, whether its supreme court justices or many other things, weve seen a lot of charges here that dont necessarily pan out.
Like Kavanaugh, Cain and Moore would need to be confirmed by the Senate. Republicans hold a 53-47 majority in that chamber, making Trumps putative Fed picks vulnerable to defections.
Kudlow was not challenged about reports on Moores divorce or tax affairs, instead being played a tape of the economist telling Bloomberg TV he was kinda new to this game frankly, so Im going to be on a steep learning curve myself about how the Fed operates and how the Federal Reserve makes its decisions.
Hes qualified, Kudlow insisted. Hes a smart guy, a really smart guy. Theres nothing wrong with a little modesty, a little humility, you learn the ropes I think Stephens being very humble about this.
Kudlow concluded the discussion, however, with a potentially telling caveat.
The president stands behind both of these gentlemen, he said, right now.