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Fed Chairman Powell thought it was ‘terrific’ that a senator defended him against Trump

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell holds a news conference following a closed two-day Federal Open Market Committee meeting in Washington, September 18, 2019.

Sarah Silbiger | Reuters

In public, Federal Reserve officials repeatedly have said they don’t pay attention to President Donald Trump’s long-standing criticism of monetary policy.

In private, though, it may be a different story, according to a New York Times report.

Email exchanges among central bankers and their staff show that some of them are watching Trump’s continued hectoring of the Fed to lower rates, and aren’t pleased with what they see. The Times acquired the emails following a Freedom of Information request.

“Ugh Ugh,” Fed Vice Chairman Richard Clarida responded when communications director Michelle Smith sent him a screenshot of an August Trump tweet calling Chairman Jerome Powell an “enemy” comparable to Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Later in the day, Smith sent Powell and Clarida an account in which Sen. Kevin Cramer, a North Dakota Republican, said in a radio interview that the Fed should be free of political pressure and expressed support for the chairman.

“Terrific,” Powell replied.

Powell repeatedly has said the Fed is not influenced by the president’s attacks. Trump variously has called central bank officials “boneheads,” compared Powell to “a golfer who can’t putt” and most recently said the Fed should cut rates to help bring down the $23 trillion national debt.

The Fed declined comment on the Times report.

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