Stephen Moore withdraws from consideration for Fed job, Trump says

The economic commentator had come under fire for past writings about women as well as recent remarks about gender.
Stephen Moore of The Heritage Foundation is interviewed in his Washington office in 2016.
Stephen Moore of The Heritage Foundation is interviewed in his Washington office in 2016.Tom Williams / CQ Roll Call via AP

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By Adam Edelman

Stephen Moore, the former campaign adviser whom President Donald Trump had been considering for a seat on the Federal Reserve, has withdrawn his name from consideration, Trump said Thursday.

"Steve Moore, a great pro-growth economist and a truly fine person, has decided to withdraw from the Fed process," Trump tweeted.

"Steve won the battle of ideas including Tax Cuts...and deregulation which have produced non-inflationary prosperity for all Americans. I've asked Steve to work with me toward future economic growth in our Country," Trump added.

Moore, who had worked as an economic adviser to the 2016 Trump presidential campaign, had come under increasing criticism in recent weeks over statements he made about gender and earnings, as well as prior writings some have deemed sexist.

Earlier this week, Moore was being criticized for such comments after telling CNBC that the biggest challenge facing the U.S. economy was the drop in earnings for men.

Moore also faced questions about past writings, including a piece he wrote for National Review in which he worried about a society where women earned more than men.

"The biggest problem I see in the economy over the last 25 years is what has happened to male earnings, for black males and white males as well," Moore said. "They’ve been declining. That is, I think, a big problem."

Moore has a well-documented history of making other remarks critical of women and that appear to disparage the need for gender equality.

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He was never officially nominated to be a a Federal Reserve governor, a post that carries a 14-year term.

Moore, who co-authored a 2018 book titled, "Trumponomics: Inside the America First Plan to Revive Our Economy," had also come under criticism due to what many saw as a close proximity to Trump's inner circle that could cause Wall Street to worry that White House pressure, not data, might drive the Fed’s actions.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders had told reporters earlier Thursday that there had been no change in Trump's official position on Moore, but that his past comments were still under review.

But Moore, a former member of the Wall Street Journal editorial board and a former president of the conservative tax-cut-focused Club for Growth, had in recent days faced growing opposition from Senate Republicans, who would have held his confirmation vote.

Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa told NBC News this week that she would vote against Moore’s nomination, if he were to be nominated, and that Moore “would not have enough votes.”

“Don’t bother sending it up, that's all I got to say,” she said.

Some Republicans faulted the way the administration had handled the process.

"It would probably be useful to have a little bit more advance notice and opportunity to bat some of these names around," said Majority Whip John Thune, R-South Dakota.

"I think it's pretty obvious that a little collaboration up front goes a long way," added Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas.

But the consensus was that the decision for Moore to withdraw his name was “a wise choice,” as Sen Lindsey Graham (R-SC) put it, since it had become clear that he did not have the votes to be confirmed.

"I thought it was a wise move, I think he was going to have a tough time," Sen John Kennedy, R-La., said of Moore. "That's not to suggest he’s not a good man, I just think he was going to have a difficult time and the votes are the votes."

In a letter to Trump, Moore said he was "respectfully asking that you withdraw my name from consideration" due to "unrelenting attacks on my character" that "have become untenable for me and my family."

Moore added that "3 more months of this would be too hard on us."

Trump's announcement of Moore's withdrawal, however, may have come as a surprise to Moore. A Bloomberg News reporter said on Twitter that he had spoken with Moore 30 minutes prior to Trump's tweet and that Moore had said his nomination was “full steam ahead.”

Moore's withdrawal from consideration comes just weeks after another one of Trump's preferences for the Federal Reserve board went down in flames.

On April 22, Trump tweeted that he would not nominate businessman and 2012 Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain to a seat on the board — an announcement that came amid controversies over Cain's experience level and past claims of sexual harassment against him, which he has denied.

At least one top Democrat celebrated Trump's tweet about Moore on Thursday.

"First, Herman Cain. Now, Stephen Moore. Thank goodness neither were actually nominated," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., tweeted. "The only thing less funny than some of Mr. Moore's tasteless, offensive, sexist 'jokes' was the idea that President @realDonaldTrump would even consider him for a seat on the Federal Reserve."

Frank Thorp V and Marianna Sotomayor contributed.