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Trump blasts Fed for hiking interest rates, stands behind 'talented guy' Mnuchin

The president made his comments Tuesday while the U.S. markets were closed for Christmas, but Asian markets declined.
Image: Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin walks  to talk with reporters at the White House on Dec. 3, 2018.
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin walks to talk with reporters at the White House on Dec. 3, 2018.Evan Vucci / AP file

President Donald Trump again lamented the Federal Reserve's stewardship of the economy, complaining to reporters on Tuesday that the central bank was responsible for the markets' massive nosedive this month.

"They're raising interest rates too fast," Trump told reporters in the Oval Office after a teleconference with U.S. troops on Christmas. "They think the economy is so good, but I think that they will get it pretty soon, I really do."

"The fact is that the economy is doing so well that they raised interest rates," the president said.

The president also expressed confidence in Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin — calling him a "very talented guy, very smart person" — days after he announced a phone call where he asked the heads of major U.S. financial institutions if they had enough liquid cash at their disposal. That call preceded another substantial market downturn on Monday.

As markets are on track for their worst December since the Great Depression, Trump has routinely criticized the Federal Reserve for its monetary policies.

This weekend, both Mnuchin and Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney — the new acting White House chief of staff — said Trump was aware he doesn't have the power to fire Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell.

Last week, the Federal Reserve announced it will raise interest rates to a range of 2.25 percent to 2.5 percent.

In an interview with NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday, Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., said he didn't think Powell "is in any danger of being fired by the president."

"I think some of the president's comments have been unfortunate," Toomey said of Trump's remarks on the Federal Reserve. "But Chairman Powell is not going to let politics interfere with his decision-making process."