House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday lambasted President Donald Trump’s latest Federal Reserve picks, saying Herman Cain and Stephen Moore are “ill-suited,” “unqualified,” and the “worst” appointments the President could make.
Speaking to reporters at the House Democratic retreat – where Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell is set to speak Thursday night – Pelosi argued the President’s choices for the world’s most powerful central bank were the latest example of the Trump administration “treading on thin ice” and trying to dismantle the government.
“With stiff competition, these two appointments to the Fed are the worst, ill-suited appointments that the President could come up with,” Pelosi said.
Vice President Mike Pence said on CNBC Thursday that the White House is in the “very early” stages of the process and defended the President’s two choices. Pence said they both “really understand what the president’s philosophy is in this economy.”
Pelosi, appearing to weigh in on the vice president’s comments, questioned whether that meant Cain and Moore would act on behalf of Trump.
“If in fact the vice president is saying they share his view, does that mean meddling in the decisions of the Fed?”
She continued to argue the Federal Reserve would struggle to maintain political independence.
“Doesn’t mean that people don’t bring their philosophies to the table, but we have two people totally ill-suited, unqualified for the position because they may just go in and say the President wants an increase in rates so we’re here to do that,” Pelosi said.
The President has repeatedly opposed potential rate increases. In 2018, the Fed under Powell raised rates four times, all unanimous decisions. In January, it decided to pause raising rates, though Powell denied that decision had anything to do with Trump.
“Thank God Chairman Powell is there,” Pelosi added. “But for him to have to deal with a politically motivated Fed…there’s so many bridges too far here, but this is a really dangerous one.”
The speaker argued the Democrats’ invitation for Powell to speak was not political and she expressed no concerns about the image of having the chairman – who Trump has repeatedly attacked – speak before her caucus.
Pelosi urged Republicans to invite Powell to speak to them, as well.
“If there’s anything that should be totally devoid of any partisan influence, it’s the Fed,” she said. “I would hope that the Republicans would invite him.”
A top White House economic adviser told CNN’s Poppy Harlow on Thursday that it’s important for the Federal Reserve to be politically independent. Kevin Hassett, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, said it was his job to remind people to respect that independence.
“That doesn’t mean you can’t express an opinion but it does mean I should not be giving (the Fed) advice,” he said on CNN. “We’ve employed great independent people over there. The President disagrees with them on interest rates but that’s for them to discuss.”
Larry Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council said Thursday the administration is standing behind Cain “at the moment,” adding that Cain is currently in the vetting process and alluded to allegations against Cain involving sexual harassment, which Cain has denied.
“This town is full of allegations, sometimes they’re true, sometimes they’re completely untrue as we’ve seen,” Kudlow said The Hill’s Newsmaker series in Washington DC. “I want to give him – Herman – a decent change to go through that process.”
CNN’s Donna Borak and Kate Trafecante contributed to this report.