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 TrumpHarris bashes Kavanaugh's 'sham' nomination process, calls for his impeachment after sexual misconduct allegation Celebrating 'Hispanic Heritage Month' in the Age of Trump Let's not play Charlie Brown to Iran's Lucy MORE broke federal trading laws and executive branch protocol before the release of the May jobs report last week

Democratic Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenGun control: Campaigning vs. legislating Booker defends middle-ground health care approach: 'We're going to fight to get there' Democrats spar over electoral appeal of 'Medicare for All' MORE (Mass.), Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenKey Senate Democrat unveils proposal to tax the rich Overnight Health Care: Trump seeks ban on flavored e-cigarettes | Purdue Pharma nears settlement with states, cities over alleged role in opioid epidemic | Senate panel cancels vote on key spending bill amid standoff Pelosi woos progressives on prescription drug pricing plan MORE (Ore.) and Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetThe Hill's 12:30 Report: House panel approves impeachment powers Burden in tonight's debate is on Democratic realists 2020 primary debate guide: Everything you need to know ahead of the September Democratic debate 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.

ADVERTISEMENT

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."