Dems want insider trading probe after Trump jobs report tweet

Dems want insider trading probe after Trump jobs report tweet
© Greg Nash

Three Senate Democrats on Friday called for a broad probe into whether President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump's newest Russia adviser, Andrew Peek, leaves post: report Hawley expects McConnell's final impeachment resolution to give White House defense ability to motion to dismiss Trump rips New York City sea wall: 'Costly, foolish' and 'environmentally unfriendly idea' MORE broke federal trading laws and executive branch protocol before the release of the May jobs report last week

Democratic Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenThe Memo: Sanders-Warren battle could reshape Democratic primary Environmental activists interrupt Buttigieg in New Hampshire Pence to visit Iowa days before caucuses MORE (Mass.), Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenHillicon Valley: Biden calls for revoking tech legal shield | DHS chief 'fully expects' Russia to try to interfere in 2020 | Smaller companies testify against Big Tech 'monopoly power' Lawmakers call for FTC probe into top financial data aggregator Overnight Health Care: Progressives raise red flags over health insurer donations | Republican FTC commish backs Medicare negotiating drug prices | Trump moves to protect money for religious groups MORE (Ore.) and Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetSanders to headline Iowa event amid impeachment trial On The Money — Presented by Wells Fargo — Sanders defends vote against USMCA | China sees weakest growth in 29 years | Warren praises IRS move on student loans Klobuchar on missing campaigning for impeachment: 'I can do two things at once' MORE (Colo.) sent letters to the chiefs of three federal agencies and the White House Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) regarding Trump’s knowledge of the May jobs report released on June 1.

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The senators also asked the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), to investigate whether Trump or any White House staffer revealed information that led to insider trading.

"President Trump recklessly violated federal rules and years of precedent by telegraphing financial data that has the power to move our markets," said Warren, who is seen as a likely 2020 presidential candidate.

"The [Bureau of Labor Statistics] and the CEA should examine what went wrong here — and the SEC and CFTC should investigate to make sure that no one obtained and used non-public information to feather their own nest," she said.

Trump last Friday touted the monthly federal jobs report roughly an hour before the data was released later that day, a breach with decades of protocol on how to handle market-moving information.

Trump in a 7:21 a.m. tweet wrote that he was “looking forward to seeing the employment numbers at 8:30 this morning.”

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released the highly anticipated data on schedule at 8:30 a.m. It was a strong report, showing the economy added 223,000 jobs and that the unemployment rate fell to 3.8 percent.

White House staffers said later that Trump was briefed on the jobs data Thursday night after it was shared with the CEA by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The information is highly classified and handled via encrypted networks.

A federal rule states that federal workers should not comment on the jobs report until an hour after it has been released, though administration officials have in the past made comments before that hour was up.

Warren, Wyden and Bennet on Friday sent a series of letters seeking information on how the jobs report and other sensitive data is handled by the White House, and whether there was unusual market activity before the report was released Friday.

The senators asked the BLS about how it transmits the jobs data to the White House, whether it will investigate Trump’s comments, and what penalties can apply to leakers of sensitive information.

The trio also asked CEA Chairman Kevin Hassett, one of the few Trump officials entrusted with the jobs report, if there were instances where Trump or other White House staffers shared sensitive economic information before it was officially released.

Warren, Wyden and Bennet said they feared that Trump had tipped off friends or business partners on the strong data, which beat expectations.

"Trump was reckless and irresponsible enough to disclose this information ahead of time, stacking the deck in favor of hedge funds and high-speed traders,” Wyden said. “We must determine the extent of the president's leaking, its impact on the financial markets and whether Trump's friends benefitted from it."

The senators also asked SEC and CFTC whether Trump or other White House aides are subject to insider trading laws and whether the agencies spotted unusual trades in the 24 hours before the jobs report was released.

"Economic data is made public at a specific time on a specific day to prevent market manipulation," Bennet said. "With hundreds of billions of dollars at stake, we need to determine if the President's inappropriate disclosure of highly sensitive information is an isolated incident or representative of a broader trend."