Trump’s Fed picks still undergoing White House vetting, top adviser says

President Donald Trump recently named his two picks for the Federal Reserve — but a top economic adviser cautioned Monday that the nominations aren’t final until they’re formally sent to the Senate.

Speaking to reporters at the White House, Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Kevin Hassett said it was too early in the process to comment on the potential nominations.

Hassett stressed that both Herman Cain and Stephen Moore are currently in the “intent to nominate” phase of the process, which means they are subject to vetting and paperwork within the administration ahead of a formal nomination.

“That’s exactly how it works for every single nominee, is that there’s an intent to nominate and then people fill out their forms, and then they decide, you know, whether they want to move forward after they look at what they have to recuse themselves from and so on and then the nomination officially goes to the Senate,” Hassett said.

Since the President announced his intent to nominate Moore and Cain, concerns have arisen about challenges for both of their confirmations. Moore, an economic commentator and former CNN contributor, owes $75,000 in taxes and penalties to the United States government. And Cain, a businessman and former Federal Reserve regional board member, faced sexual harassment allegations that effectively ended his 2012 presidential campaign.

Hassett said that potential candidates should be given privacy and time to work potential conflicts out with the Office of Government Ethics and provide as much information as possible to ensure that the Senate can have a “fact-based debate” once the formal nominations are submitted.

“I think the President has a lot of confidence in both (Moore and Cain),” Hassett said when asked by CNN whether he was concerned about the impact allegations against Cain could have on his confirmation process.

He continued, “And that point, I think, is the right time to debate everything about that we’ve learned about the past. And part of the process identifies those things, as well.”

Trump, who has openly expressed his frustration with Fed chair Jerome Powell — a former investment banker Trump selected in 2017 — over interest rate hikes, announced last week he intends to nominate Cain for a seat on the board of the world’s most powerful central bank. In March, he also said he would nominate Moore, a former 2016 campaign adviser, to a seat.

Chief economic adviser Larry Kudlow on Sunday offered a stronger defense of the picks.

Kudlow called criticism that the possible nominations of the two longtime Trump supporters would politicize the Federal Reserve “very unfair.”

“Let’s take Herman Cain. Besides being a very successful entrepreneurial businessman, he was a board member of the Kansas City Federal Reserve and actually was the chairman of the board of the Kansas City Federal Reserve. His time there spans, I think, about a decade. He’s intimately acquainted with Federal Reserve operations and policy issues, so I think these criticisms are very unfair,” Kudlow told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union.”

But asked about the sexual harassment allegations against Cain, Kudlow also pointed to the vetting process, signaling the nominations are not yet a done deal.

“We are going through a vetting process in the White House. I’m sure the Senate Banking Committee will do likewise. There’s big disputes here. Mr. Cain disagrees with this point of view (of one of the accusers). I’m not going to litigate that here,” he said.

Cain suspended his bid for the Republican nomination for president in 2011 after multiple women accused him of sexual harassment when he was head of the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s and one woman claimed she had a 13-year affair with Cain.

Pressed again, Kudlow said, “Whether it’s Supreme Court justices or many other things, we’ve seen a lot of charges here. They don’t necessarily pan out.”

He then said that Trump “has every right in the world to nominate people who share his economic philosophy.”

Cain said in a Facebook video posted Friday that he’s steeling himself for a tough selection process after sexual harassment allegations rocked his 2012 presidential bid.

The former business executive said on Facebook Watch’s “The Herman Cain Show” he was eager to air things out in the open.

“You better believe that the people who hate me, who do not like conservatism, Republicans, are already digging up all of the negative stuff that’s in stories from eight years ago,” Cain said.

“So be it. Let them go back and dig up eight-year-old stuff. I will be able to explain it this time where they wouldn’t let me explain it the last time,” Cain said. “They were too busy believing the accusers. I’m not mad, y’all. I’m just not going to let the accusers run my life. Or determine my career.”