Mnuchin: Trump supports Fed's independence, not trying to provide 'pressure'

Mnuchin: Trump supports Fed's independence, not trying to provide 'pressure'
© Greg Nash

Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinOvernight Defense: Trump hits Iranian central bank with sanctions | Trump meeting with Ukrainian leader at UN | Trump touts relationship with North Korea's Kim as 'best thing' for US Trump says he's sanctioning Iran's national bank Lawmakers run into major speed bumps on spending bills MORE stressed his support for the Federal Reserve's "independence" from the rest of the federal government on Saturday, days after President TrumpDonald John TrumpJulián Castro: It's time for House Democrats to 'do something' about Trump Warren: Congress is 'complicit' with Trump 'by failing to act' Sanders to join teachers, auto workers striking in Midwest MORE blasted the Fed during an interview for raising interest rates.

Mnuchin told reporters at a Group of 20 meeting of finance ministers and central bank representatives that the Trump administration "completely supports" the Fed's "independence," while declining to call Trump's comments on the bank a mistake.

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"Where the Fed ends up on interest rates is one, completely up to them, and [two], is also dependent upon what happens to the economy," he said, according to CNN.

"There was no need for me to call him to reassure him," Mnuchin added. "He understands that the Fed is independent."

Mnuchin also denied that Trump was attempting to cause a drop in the value of the U.S. dollar with a Friday tweet warning about America losing its "competitive edge" as a result of strong dollar value.

"We do not intervene," Mnuchin told reporters. "We do not manage our currency."

"This is not in any way the president trying to intervene in the currency markets," he said. He added that Trump's comments weren't intended "in any way to put pressure on the Fed" to keep rates low, CNN reported.

Trump told CNBC on Thursday that he’s “not thrilled” with Chairman Jerome Powell, who he appointed to lead the bank this February, over Powell's decision to gradually raise interest rates.

“We go up and every time you go up they want to raise rates again. I don't really — I am not happy about it. But at the same time I’m letting them do what they feel is best,” Trump said.

“I don’t like all of this work that we’re putting into the economy and then I see rates going up.”

Trump's comments were a departure from precedent by former sitting presidents, who historically avoided applying pressure on the Fed as it works to encourage low unemployment and stable prices.

In the same interview, Trump dismissed criticism of his comments on the Fed and other agencies seen to be independent of the executive branch, arguing that he was simply sharing his long-held views.

“I’m just saying the same thing that I would have said as a private citizen,” Trump said. “So somebody would say, ‘Oh, maybe you shouldn’t say that as president.' I couldn’t care less what they say, because my views haven’t changed.”