Speed Reads

Impulse Control

Here's a plausible explanation for why Trump never prematurely tipped the jobs report before last week

Last Friday, President Trump at least broke protocol and possibly broke the law by commenting publicly about the unemployment numbers before they were released. Some people were surprised that he had strongly hinted at good jobs numbers on Twitter, others were surprised it took him 15 months to cross that line. Well, on Monday, Politico's Ben White and Aubree Eliza Weaver offered one explanation: Before last week, Trump never knew the numbers.

"Before he left the White House, former National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn would withhold jobs report data from President Trump until shortly before their release because he was worried the president couldn't help but say something about them," Politico reports. "It's now easy to see why he did this." Current NEC Director Larry Kudlow, who told Trump the numbers the night before per the usual protocol, "did nothing wrong here," White writes. "But Trump did, even if it wasn't a direct disclosure of the numbers. He's now created a scenario in which traders will be looking for Trump tweets each jobs Friday. ... And he's raised the question of whether he's dishing on the numbers in his regular late night calls to friends from the White House."

Kevin Hassett, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, insisted that Trump didn't commit "a process foul" because he didn't tweet the actual numbers. "He said he was excited to see the data," Hassett told The Wall Street Journal. "We were all excited to see the data." But an unidentified person close to the White House and familiar with the jobs number release told the Journal that Trump has "been told before that every piece of economic data that he receives the night before he can't comment on until 9:30 a.m. the next day." This wasn't a breakdown in White House process, the person added, "it was a breakdown in his conduct."