Kudlow Says Trump Stands by Moore Despite Tax, Alimony Reports

(Bloomberg) -- Donald Trump’s top economic adviser said the president stands by his choice of Stephen Moore for an open seat on the Federal Reserve Board despite recent reports about the possible nominee’s failure to fully pay taxes and alimony.

“We are fully behind him,” Larry Kudlow, head of the National Economic Council, said Wednesday at an event hosted by the Christian Science Monitor in Washington. “He will be a breath of fresh air at the Fed. So far, all systems are go.”

Kudlow Says Trump Stands by Moore Despite Tax, Alimony Reports

Speaking at a reception Tuesday evening at Trump’s Washington hotel -- hosted by Moore and supply-side economist Arthur Laffer -- Kudlow said Moore had “earned” the nomination. The event included a screening of Steve Forbes’s new documentary “In Money We Trust.”

Moore, a senior fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation, has faced a wave of criticism following reports that he owes more than $75,000 in taxes and other penalties to the U.S. government.

His potential nomination comes after the president has repeatedly blasted the Fed over interest rate hikes last year that Trump says have imperiled economic growth. Trump even discussed with advisers late last year whether he should fire Jerome Powell, the chairman he appointed in 2017.

Economists have shot back at Trump, saying that his remarks called into question his respect for the central bank’s independence in setting monetary policy.

Kudlow Says Trump Stands by Moore Despite Tax, Alimony Reports

Kudlow echoed Trump’s criticisms Wednesday morning.

“If I had my druthers, I’d love to have him take back 50 basis points,” Kudlow said. But, he added, “we are not trying to compromise the independence” of the central bank.

A federal tax lien filed in the circuit court for Montgomery County, Maryland, where Moore owns a house, says that the government won a judgment against Moore for $75,328.80. The January 2018 filing said the lien was for unpaid taxes from the 2014 tax year and could accrue additional penalties and other costs.

In a separate report, the Guardian cited court records last week showing Moore had previously been found in contempt of court after he failed to pay his ex-wife some $300,000 in alimony after their 2010 divorce. A judge in Virginia reprimanded Moore in 2012 after he didn’t make spousal support, child support and other payments required by his divorce settlement, and in 2013 ordered Moore to sell his house to satisfy the debt.

The White House hasn’t yet officially submitted Moore’s nomination to the Senate, which must vote to confirm him.

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