Trump will not nominate Herman Cain for Fed seat

It’s official: Herman Cain is not going to be on the Fed

Trump will not nominate Herman Cain for Fed seat
Former Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain speaks during an Americans for Prosperity rally on July 23, 2012 in Reno, Nevada. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

It’s official: Herman Cain has withdrawn from consideration for a seat on the Federal Reserve Board, a development President Donald Trump announced via tweet on Monday.

My friend Herman Cain, a truly wonderful man, has asked me not to nominate him for a seat on the Federal Reserve Board. I will respect his wishes. Herman is a great American who truly loves our Country!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 22, 2019

It’s an abrupt turnaround for the former Republican presidential candidate and Godfather’s Pizza executive who said just last week that he didn’t intend to drop out, despite growing Republican opposition.

In the end, it appears pushback from Senate Republicans, who expressed concerns about his politicized approach to policy and past allegations of sexual misconduct, was enough to take him contention. Trump had yet to officially nominate Cain for a seat on the Federal Reserve but floated the idea earlier this month.

Despite everything congressional Republicans have put up with from Trump’s nominees, Cain was apparently a step too far.

Senate Republicans drew a line at the Cain nomination

Senate Republicans have helped usher through Cabinet and judicial nominees who’ve been accused of sexual assault, advocated the rollback of voting rights, and questioned the role humans play in climate change.

Cain, however, appears to have pushed the limits of Republicans’ willingness to stand by the president’s selections — particularly among those lawmakers who are already less ly to fall in line.


Mitt Romney (R-UT) was among the earliest Republicans to come out against Cain, saying he worried Cain’s presence would make the Fed a more partisan body, given the former executive’s longstanding political support for Trump. Romney argued earlier this month that Cain would ly help Trump fulfill his plans to slash interest rates and harm the independence of the institution guiding America’s monetary policy.

“I would to see nominees that are economists first and not partisans. I think it’s important that the Fed be a nonpartisan entity,” Romney told Politico in an interview. “The key is that someone is outside of the political world and is an economic leader not a partisan leader.”

When asked about Cain and conservative economist Stephen Moore, another potential Fed nominee, Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) simply laughed. “I hope the president will consider these nominations very carefully,” she told Vox. I’m not very enthused right now.”

Growing blowback against Cain’s nomination led Senate Republicans to stage a behind-the-scenes effort to prevent his selection from being formalized by the White House, Politico reported.

And four Republicans — Sens. Cory Gardner (R-CO), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Romney (R-UT), and Kevin Cramer (R-ND) — ultimately announced that they wouldn’t be voting in favor of Cain’s confirmation, effectively killing it.

Cramer, the fourth lawmaker to speak out, previously told the Hill that sexual misconduct allegations Cain has faced were the deciding factor for him.

“His showmanship doesn’t bother me, his business experience I think is great, simplifying the tax code is fine by me, but character still does matter,” he said.

Cain would have needed at least 50 votes to be confirmed in the Senate (with Vice President Mike Pence as a tie-breaker), and with four Republicans, of the party’s 53-person majority, stating their opposition, he was expected to fall short of that threshold.

Republicans seem less worried about Stephen Moore

Moore, the second person Trump has said he intends to appoint to the Fed, appears to be getting a warmer reception from Senate Republicans, even though he’s similarly controversial.

Democrats also view Moore, a current fellow at conservative think tank the Heritage Foundation, as a baldly political choice — and pointedly wonder whether someone who’s encountered personal finance issues in the past is qualified to help run the US’s central bank.

As Amanda Sakuma wrote for Vox, Moore was previously held in contempt of court for failing to pay child support and alimony to his ex-wife in the wake of their divorce settlement. He also owes more than $75,000 in taxes to the IRS, which he says he’s been paying back in the aftermath of what he claimed was a paperwork-related mishap, according to the Guardian.

Moore is also under fire for a series of sexist columns he wrote for the National Review in the early 2000s, which called for women to be barred from men’s sports events and questioned the need for equal pay for male and female athletes, CNN reports. Moore has since dismissed these pieces as a “spoof.”

Those issues, however, may not be disqualifying for all Senate Republicans; multiple lawmakers have mentioned that they were familiar with Moore and spoke positively of his consideration earlier this month.

“I know Stephen Moore. He’s a smart man. He’s the head of Club for Growth,” said Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL). “We have to do this in regular order, but I think he would probably be a good voice on the Fed. One, he’s got to be nominated first. Second, he’s got to be confirmed.”

“I said, ‘Pay your taxes; pay your support!’” Shelby said, when asked about Moore’s financial problems.

“Stephen is a solid guy, I know Stephen pretty well. I think Stephen has been right about a few things, with regard to the Fed’s treatment of interest rates, especially,” Cramer said. “I want to hear more about the specific issues surrounding some of his financial situations.”

The North Dakota senator added that he did not see Moore’s run-in with the IRS or the divorce settlement disqualifying him from the nomination if he has cleared up both issues.

All of these subjects are expected to get serious scrutiny during Moore’s confirmation process if he winds up being officially nominated by the White House, something Democrats vigorously oppose.

“Herman Cain was woefully unqualified to be on the Federal Reserve, and his failure to garner adequate support should not be used as a pathway by Senate Republicans to approve Stephen Moore, who is equally unqualified and perhaps more political,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement.

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3 reasons why Trump dumped Herman Cain for Fed seat

Trump will not nominate Herman Cain for Fed seat

A man walks by the Marriner S. Eccles Federal Reserve Board Building in Washington, D.C.. Herman Cain will not get a Fed seat after all, President Trump announced Monday.

(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)Posted April 22, 2019 at 3:12pm

In the end, not even Donald Trump and his sky-high popularity with the conservative wing of the Republican Party could give Herman Cain a new political life.

The president announced in a midday tweet that the former 2012 GOP presidential candidate would not get a nomination for a seat on the Federal Reserve.

My friend Herman Cain, a truly wonderful man, has asked me not to nominate him for a seat on the Federal Reserve Board. I will respect his wishes. Herman is a great American who truly loves our Country!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 22, 2019

“I’ve recommended Herman Cain. A terrific man, a terrific person. He’s a friend of mine,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office on April 4. “I’ve recommended him highly for the Fed.

[White House gives Herman Cain an out on Fed amid GOP opposition]

Then came a presidential prediction that never quite reflected reality: “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.” But Cain never actually had much of a chance.

Here are three reasons Trump had no choice but to dump Cain, who once was Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City chairman.

Reluctant Republicans

The White House never had the votes in the Senate. And there simply was little chance of convincing enough GOP members to roll the dice on Cain, who was forced the 2012 Republican presidential primary amid sexual misconduct charges.

[Herman Cain picks up more GOP opposition to his being on the Fed]

“There is a lack of enthusiasm among a number of our members about that particular nominee,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on April 11. That dose of McConnell-speak was a message to the White House that the idea was ly doomed.

“I have not spoken to him about it,” the Kentucky Republican said of the president. “I do think — stating the obvious — that there are two things the administration ought to consider before nominating someone. First, obviously, background check. And second, lihood of confirmation. And generally, it’s better to check that out in advance, before you send a nomination up.”

But the Trump team did neither, causing the president to — yet again — reverse himself as his ever-changing presidency rolls on.

When GOP Sen. Kevin Cramer of North Dakota on the same day joined fellow Republican Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah, Cory Gardner of Colorado, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska in publicly opposing the Cain pick, it put his chances at confirmation in jeopardy.

Qualifications questioned

Cain and Stephen Moore, a conservative commentator who also is being vetted by the White House, are not qualified, House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries said earlier this month.

[Sarah Sanders lashes out at Democrats, April Ryan over calls for her firing]

“It’s not clear to me whether that’s reality or a ‘Saturday Night Live’ skit,” the New York Democrat said, predicting the nominees will be withdrawn.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi dubbed Cain “ill-suited” and “dangerous.”

But those questions were not just coming from Democrats.

Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby  — a longtime Alabama lawmaker who meets somewhat frequently with the president — also had voiced concerns about the former pizza executive being nominated — a signal additional GOP defections were ly.

“That’s an important appointment, that’s a serious appointment to the Federal Board of Governors. Stephen Moore, let’s talk about him first. He is involved in the economics.

And I know him,” Shelby said before the chamber left for a two-week recess. “I don’t know Mr. Cain. … It will be interesting to see what happens. I don’t know what will happen.

… We have to vet it and we have to evaluate it.”

The president has voiced his anger with the Fed’s decisions on key interest rates, claiming a late-2018 hike has slowed economic growth that will be key to his 2020 reelection fight.

[Trump feared ‘one of these independent counsels.’ He got something else]

Some of Trump’s sharpest words for the Fed and its chairman, Trump-appointed Jerome Powell, came during a late November interview with the Washington Post.

“I’m doing deals and I’m not being accommodated by the Fed,” Trump told the newspaper.

“They’re making a mistake because I have a gut and my gut tells me more sometimes than anybody else’s brain can ever tell me. So far, I’m not even a little bit happy with my selection of Jay.

Not even a little bit. And I’m not blaming anybody, but I’m just telling you I think that the Fed is way off-base with what they’re doing.”

That prompted concerns the president selected Cain and Moore to give him two voices on the Fed board who would advocate for his desired low interest rates, and work to prevent Powell and others from again raising rates.

“There are so many bridges too far here, but this is a really dangerous one,” Pelosi said. “The Fed should be determining the rates, not … politicians.

“When you 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 continued. “That is a dangerous thing for an economy, when a central bank of the country has political influence.”

Jennifer Shutt, Lindsey McPherson and Paul Krawzak contributed to this report.

CQ Roll Call is a part of FiscalNote, the leading technology innovator at the intersection of global business and government. Copyright 2021 CQ Roll Call. All rights reserved.


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