Trump's tweet about jobs report raises questions

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On Wall Street, where the 8:30 a.m. release on Jobs Friday is a major event for the markets each month, traders disagreed on whether the tweet actually moved prices, which fluctuate constantly and make it hard to determine if any single event pushed them in one direction or another.

The rule states: "All employees of the Executive Branch who receive pre release distribution of information and data estimates as authorized above are responsible for assuring that there is no release prior to the official release time". During the Obama administration, Trump routinely said the numbers in the jobs report had been tampered with to bolster Democrats' political prospects.

As per the age-old practice, the Bureau of Labor Statistics releases the jobs report on the first Friday of every month.

Austan Goolsbee, who served on the Council of Economic Advisers during the Obama administration, suggested President Trump's tweet may have been illegal. Nonetheless, he said the markets were selling off bonds before Trump's tweet, signaling expectation of a strong jobs report.

"Of course he knew", Kudlow said in an interview Friday. Last year, in a White House meeting with Russia's foreign minister and ambassador, he revealed highly classified information about a top-secret Israeli military operation (he was in the process of bragging to the Russian officials about the quality of his intelligence reports). "I don't he gave anything away incidentally".

In March of past year, then-White House press secretary Sean Spicer ran afoul of the directive when he took to Twitter 22 minutes after the Bureau of Labor Statistics had released the jobs report for the previous month to tout that the 235,000 net jobs gain and the slight decline in the unemployment rate were "great news for American workers".

Then there's the fact that a tweet like this from the President can move markets, creating a big potential downside for future reports. The embargo on Executive Branch employees talking about the numbers is "to create in the minds of the public the clearest possible separation between when the nerds speak and when the politicians spin", says Justin Wolfers, professor of economics and public policy at University of MI. "I can tell you President Trump really cares about the economic data".

Austan Goolsbee, another former CEA chair under Obama, tweeted "If the president just tipped that the numbers are good, he broke the law". But Friday's jobs report suggests that they are taking chances with pockets of the unemployed and underemployed whom they had previously ignored.

When contacted by CNBC for comment on the controversy, the White House argued that it was OK for Trump to push the job numbers since "he didn't put the numbers out". And it came at the height of the financial crisis, when companies were laying off workers and the stock market was sliding almost every day.

"The May jobs report revealed impressive strength and breadth in USA job creation that blew away most economists' expectations", said Scott Anderson, chief economist at Bank of the West.

Former Treasury Secretary and NEC director Larry Summers alluded to the curve on which Trump is graded, saying that investigations would be called for any other President.

"He has been on a campaign to undermine public trust in information that doesn't come from him", Naftali said.



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