Business journalists and former administration officials are sounding the alarm after President Donald Trump tweeted hinting the monthly jobs report would be positive an hour before its release.
Just before 7:30 a.m. ET, Trump tweeted that he was “looking forward to seeing the employment numbers” when the report was released at 8:30 a.m. ET, a move that reporters, like Business Insider’s Pedro da Costa, are claiming has already influenced markets.
Looking forward to seeing the employment numbers at 8:30 this morning.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 1, 2018
Markets are moving on Trump’s illegal tweet preview of April jobs report.
— Pedro da Costa (@pdacosta) June 1, 2018
Experts and former officials have said that at best, Trump broke with expected precedent and at worst, he appeared to violate federal rules barring officials from commenting on data before its release.
Another norm-breaking tweet: Trump sending a signal to the markets about the jobs numbers an hour before they are made public. https://t.co/urENVUo2G5
— Peter Alexander (@PeterAlexander) June 1, 2018
Former Obama administration economic official Jason Furman spoke out on Twitter minutes after Trump’s tweet, suggesting that the President should be blocked from viewing the report ahead of its release if he was, in fact, attempting to give his followers a hint about the report.
You should have gotten the employment numbers from the Council of Economic Advisers yesterday.
And if this tweet is conveying inside information about a particularly good jobs number you should never get them in advance from the Council of Economic Advisers again. https://t.co/Qd3ig89onT
— Jason Furman (@jasonfurman) June 1, 2018
Others, like David Wessel, a journalist and the director of the fiscal and monetary policy branch of the Brookings Institution, chalked it up to another Trump public relations nightmare that could’ve been avoided.
Not sure how masterful Trump is at PR game: We get really good jobs numbers and he steps on the news with a premature and inappropriate tweet.
— David Wessel (@davidmwessel) June 1, 2018
Some former officials were divided on the significance of the President’s tweet. Tony Fratto, the former deputy press secretary for the George W. Bush administration, said Trump didn’t break any statutes, while former Obama White House cabinet secretary Chris Lu suggested that “misuse” of the federal jobs data “leads to dismissal.”
I'm not aware of any statute that would prevent a POTUS from announcing the jobs #s himself if he wanted to. But it's obviously pretty bad practice to hint at the number. Market participants rely on consistent, predictable release of our data.
— Tony Fratto (@TonyFratto) June 1, 2018
If you're wondering about the outrage over Trump's #JobsReport tweet, this is one of the most sensitive pieces of federal data and can dramatically move markets. It's closely held and misuse of it leads to dismissal.
Good @elisaslow story from 2012: https://t.co/LKe13ePcOO
— Chris Lu (@ChrisLu44) June 1, 2018
The White House did not immediately respond to TPM’s request for comment.