Embattled Trump Fed pick Stephen Moore complains: 'They're pulling a Kavanaugh against me'

Key Points
  • Stephen Moore is comparing the reaction to his Federal Reserve board nomination to the one faced by Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who was accused of sexual misconduct after being tapped for the high court.
  • Since President Trump nominated Moore, there has been a steady drip of revelations about his past, including a federal tax lien, messy divorce, a finding of contempt of court for shorting his ex-wife on a divorce payout, sexist past writings, and negative comments about Cleveland and Cincinnati.
  • Trump's other recent pick for the central bank, Herman Cain, has bowed out after a number of Republican senators said they would not vote for him.
Stephen Moore
Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images

President Donald Trump's embattled Federal Reserve board pick Stephen Moore is comparing the reaction to his nomination — which has included disclosures of sexist writings and shorting his ex-wife of more than $300,000 in a divorce payout — to the one faced by Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who was accused of sexual misconduct after being tapped for the high court.

"You know, they're pulling a Kavanaugh against me," Moore complained during an interview with WZFG-AM Radio.

Since Trump named him as a Fed contender, Moore said, "it's been one personal assault after another and a kind of character assassination, having nothing to do with economics."

Stephen Moore isn't the right pick for Fed board, says AEI's Pethokoukis
Stephen Moore isn't the right pick for Fed board, says AEI's Pethokoukis

"They're trying to derail this nomination."

But the conservative economics pundit vowed: "We're going to get through this."

Kavanaugh himself got through his own nomination last year by angrily denying claims he had drunkenly sexually assaulted a 15-year-old girl when they were both in high school in the early 1980s, as well as other allegations of sexual misconduct by other women from the same era.

Moore said that "I kind of wear it as a badge of honor" that purported opponents of his nomination in the media are bringing up "my divorce 10 years ago, or something I wrote 25 years ago."

When the radio interviewer said, "It's all National Enquirer stuff," Moore eagerly replied, "It really is!"

Read more: Mitt Romney poses a major headache for Trump on Fed appointments

The National Enquirer's publishers paid off a woman, Playboy model Karen McDougal, in 2016 to keep her quiet about her claims that she had an affair with then-presidential candidate Trump a decade earlier.

Moore, a distinguished visiting fellow at conservative think tank Heritage Foundation, spoke days after businessman and 2012 presidential contender Herman Cain removed himself from consideration for another Fed board seat. Cain bowed out of contention after a backlash to his own nomination over past allegations of sexual harassment and after it became clear he did not have the support of enough Republican senators to win Senate approval.

Cain has denied the harassment claims and said he was dropping out because joining the Fed would require him to take a deep pay cut.

Moore echoed Cain's concerns about pay, saying during his interview that "probably the easiest thing to do would be to throw in the towel," and noting that "I'm taking a 60 percent cut" in pay if approved for the Fed.

Yet he said he would continue to seek the Fed seat and he is in the midst of a vetting process that will include financial disclosures and an FBI background investigation.

Later Wednesday, Trump's top economic advisor Larry Kudlow, in an interview on Fox Business, said "Steve Moore's in, he continues to have the backing of the president and myself."

"We stand completely behind him," Kudlow said.

Moore was picked by Trump in late March for one of two open seats on the central bank's governing board. Moore has supported Trump's criticisms of the Fed for raising interest rates last year, a move that the president says has kept the U.S. economy from reaching its full capacity.

A number of economists have criticized the appointment, saying Moore has a track record of being wrong about economic issues.

Since Moore's nomination, there has been a steady drip of revelations about his past, which are detailed in court records and Internet news archives.

Moore's ex-wife Allison sued him for divorce in 2010, accusing him of being a brazen adulterer who subjected her to "emotional and psychological abuse ... throughout their marriage."

In March 2013, a judge found Moore in contempt of court for having failed to pay Allison more than $330,000 he had agreed to fork over in a divorce settlement, alimony and child support. The contempt action against him was lifted after he paid Allison about two-thirds of what he owed her and resumed paying alimony and child support.

Moore has a $75,000 federal tax lien lodged against him for underpayment of income taxes in 2014. Moore is contesting the amount of the tax lien, which his current wife says stems from a disallowance of his deducting alimony he paid Allison.

In online columns for the National Review in the early 2000s, Moore dismissed arguments by female athletes that they should be paid as much as male counterparts, and complained about the "outrageous" practice of having a woman referee an NCAA basketball tournament game.

Moore once wrote, "The women tennis pros don't really want equal pay for equal work. They want equal pay for inferior work," and suggested that "if there's an injustice in tennis, it's that women like Martina Hingis and Monica Seles make millions of dollars a year" even though hundreds of male college players "could beat them handily."

Moore told CNN, which first wrote about those columns, "This was a spoof. I have a sense of humor."

On Wednesday, CNBC noted that video has surfaced showing Moore making disparaging remarks about Cleveland and Cincinnati in a 2014 speech.

"If you live in the Midwest, where else do you want to live besides Chicago, right?" he continued. "You don't want to live in Cincinnati or Cleveland, these, you know, armpits of America. You all want to live in Chicago."

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said Moore's comments "should be disqualifying for the critical role of Governor of the Federal Reserve Board."

"You didn't just insult Cleveland and Cincinnati — you dismissed millions of Americans who work and live in small towns and cities across the industrial heartland, and who have been looked down on and left behind by Washington and Wall Street for decades," Brown said in a letter he sent to Moore. "As a public servant, your job would be to fight for these Americans — something you cannot do when you don't know the first thing about the places where they live."