Larry Kudlow, director of the U.S. National Economic Council, pauses while speaking to members of the media outside the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S. (Photographer: Al Drago/Bloomberg)

Kudlow Says Moore Pulled Out of Fed the Day Before Saying ‘I’m All In’

(Bloomberg) -- Stephen Moore decided to withdraw his candidacy for a seat on the Federal Reserve board a day before insisting in an interview that he was “all in” for the job, according to President Donald Trump’s top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow.

Kudlow said in a Bloomberg Television interview on Friday that Moore called him Wednesday evening and said he wanted to withdraw.

“He said he wanted to withdraw, that he and his bride just couldn’t stomach the personal attacks,” Kudlow said. “And of course I’m very sympathetic to that. He had a pretty raw deal if you ask me.”

Moore on Thursday said he blamed “the left” for what he called a “sleaze campaign” against him. But it was his own party that ultimately sank his nomination. Senator Joni Ernst, an Iowa Republican, said she had told the White House she wouldn’t vote for him, in part because of columns he wrote for National Review more than 15 years ago denigrating women.

Moore called the columns “a spoof” and “humorous.” He also had to publicly explain court records first unearthed by the Guardian that showed he hadn’t paid his ex-wife $300,000 in alimony he owed her after their divorce and that the U.S. government had won a judgment against him for more than $75,000 for a tax debt.

Moore’s current wife, Anne, had grown increasingly weary of the criticism of her husband, according to people familiar with the matter.

Kudlow said that after Moore informed him he wanted to withdraw, he spoke to the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, Idaho’s Mike Crapo, later on Wednesday and then with Trump early Thursday.

Kudlow’s account contradicts Moore, who told Bloomberg News Thursday morning that the White House had indicated to him a day earlier that it would proceed with his nomination. Kudlow said he was unaware Moore planned to speak to Bloomberg.

“I’m all in,” Moore said in the Bloomberg interview, though he allowed that he would withdraw if Trump decided that was best.

“I’m going to do what the president wants me to do,” Moore said. “If he wants me to keep fighting, I’m going to keep fighting. If he thinks it’s time to throw in the towel, I’ll do that.”

Hours after the interview, the president said in a tweet that Moore had decided to withdraw. His exit marked four consecutive Fed appointments who have failed to advance even to a Senate confirmation hearing.

“Our tweet maybe could’ve gotten out earlier but we had that beautiful prayer ceremony,” Kudlow said. Trump participated in a National Day of Prayer celebration Thursday morning, while Moore was visiting Bloomberg’s Washington office.

Kudlow said he asked Moore not to say anything publicly about his withdrawal until Trump weighed in. Moore said Friday in a brief phone interview: “It is what it is and I’m not going to comment on that.”

The economic pundit’s withdrawal -- following a similar abrupt exit by another Trump nominee-in-waiting, Herman Cain, in April -- has increased Republican frustration with the White House’s bare-bones vetting process. Trump’s previous nominations of a pair of economists for the two vacant Fed posts last year, Nellie Liang and Marvin Goodfriend, expired when Congress adjourned without acting on them.

Liang withdrew from consideration for the job in January, and Goodfriend wasn’t renominated.

Senate Republicans have publicly urged the White House to take more care with future nominees and investigate their backgrounds more extensively before publicly naming them. Trump announced in tweets that he would nominate both Moore and Cain before background checks had been completed, and their names were never formally submitted to the Senate.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.