President Donald Trump had reason to celebrate the July employment report, which showed a better-than-expected jump in job creation.
In a tweet 15 minutes after the report was released at 8:30 a.m. Eastern, the president called the report “excellent.”
“I have only just begun,” he added.
The text message seemed to violate a federal rule barring White House and other political appointees from publicly commenting on economic indicators for at least one hour after the official release time.
The rule is designed to keep politics away from the data, to preserve the distinction between the “policy-neutral release of data by statistical agencies and their interpretation by policy officials.”
Trump and his press secretary Sean Spicer also appeared to violate the rule in March, after the February job report showed a gain of 235,000 jobs.
Former Obama administration officials cried foul.
This White House really doesn’t like following rules. They also messed this up in March: https://t.co/LMfFPCZaVG pic.twitter.com/uNMk4nwDc7
— Chris Lu (@ChrisLu44) August 4, 2017
Jason Furman, who was President Obama’s top economic adviser, said every president since Richard Nixon has waited until at least 9:30 a.m to comment on the jobs data.
“I could see an argument for updating the rule to reflect the fact that people get much more information much more quickly about the jobs numbers than they did in the 1970s,” Furman said in a written answer to a question.
“But if that is the case, there should be a transparent process to consider any changes — not a unilateral decision to break the rule,” he said.