President Donald Trump said Thursday that he’s recommending Herman Cain, a former pizza executive who dropped his bid for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination amid sexual harassment allegations, for a seat on the Federal Reserve Board.
“I’ve recommended Herman Cain. A terrific man, a terrific person. He’s a friend of mine,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office. “I’ve recommended him highly for the Fed. I’ve told my folks that that’s the man and he’s doing some pre-checking now and I would imagine he’d be in great shape.”
The announcement comes weeks after Trump floated another nominee to fill an open seat on the Fed board: Stephen Moore, a former campaign adviser and distinguished fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation.
There are currently two vacancies on the seven-member Fed Board.
Since the start of his presidency, Trump has moved to reshape the world’s most powerful central bank, already appointing four people to the seven-member Fed Board so far.
That includes Chairman Jerome Powell, a former investment banker, who the President has repeatedly accused of trying to undercut him politically by raising interest rates, which Trump believes will slow down the economy.
Cain’s nomination, however, could thrust the institution yet again into the spotlight. The role requires Senate confirmation and any vetting process is likely to resurface allegations Cain faced over sexual harassment and infidelity that ended his bid for the Republican nomination.
At the time, Cain said the allegations were incorrect but acknowledged “he had made mistakes in my life,” according to Bloomberg.
Cain, the former chief executive of Godfather’s Pizza Inc., has some prior experience at the Fed. From 1992 to 1996, he served as a director of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. Each of the 12 regional Fed banks has a nine-person board that includes local executives.
“I find Herman to be an outstanding person, a truly outstanding individual. I would think he would do very well there,” Trump said during an Oval Office availability with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He.
With two seats open, the President could seize the opportunity to appoint nominees who disagree with how Powell has steered the central bank’s interest rate policy. So far, Powell has been able to build consensus with his existing board, with not a single dissenting vote on any policy decision since he took the helm in February 2018.
The President has blasted the central bank for going “loco” for raising rates four times last year. Those verbal public attacks have slowed as the Fed has signaled it will pause raising rates this year – a fact that Powell says has had no influence on how the central bank’s interest rate setting decisions.
Trump recently complained about Powell during at least three meeting this week, reported by The Wall Street Journal, despite his Fed chairman taking steps to indefinitely pause raising interest rates this year and halting plans to shrink its balance sheet, two things Trump has repeatedly pressed for as recently as last week in a tweet.
The President reportedly blamed Powell during meetings with Republican senators and staffers that if it hadn’t been for a string of rate increases by the Fed last year’s stocks would have risen higher and the budget deficit would not have widened as much, according to the Journal.
One person, who heard the comments made by the President about Powell, described it as “pretty rough,” according to the Journal.
In a recent telephone conversation, Trump told Powell, “I guess I’m stuck with you,” the person recalled, according to the Journal. A Fed spokeswoman confirmed to CNN that Powell had a brief conversation with Trump on March 8, but declined to elaborate any further.
On Wednesday, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow shrugged off the President’s reported remarks, suggesting they may have been intended “lovingly.”
“I wasn’t in the conversation,” Kudlow told reporters during a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor. “I’m just opening up the possibility. Loving affection, hugging on the phone.”