Top officials at the Bureau of Labor Statistics expressed alarm over a tweet by President Donald Trump last month touting a jobs report before it was officially released, according to newly obtained emails.
In his June 1 tweet, Trump said: "Looking forward to seeing the employment numbers at 8:30 this morning."
According to emails obtained by BuzzFeed News in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, Trump's tweet prompted concerns within the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) that the words "looking forward" would be interpreted by the markets as indicating positive numbers.
“It's all over the news,” Nancy Ruiz de Gamboa, the agency's associate commissioner for administration, wrote in an email to senior officials at the bureau.
In fact, Trump's tweet, which broke with decades of protocol in which the president waited until employment numbers were officially released to comment, did have an impact on the market: Stocks jumped, resulting in a flurry of activity inside BLS by officials who were trying to get a handle on the situation.
In another email, Eric Molina, the bureau’s acting chief for the division of management systems, flagged Trump's tweet to William Wiatrowski, the commissioner of BLS. Molina said that while the tweet was “vague,” it was interpreted to mean “that the Jobs Report was going in a positive direction.”
“Obviously, we are concerned of any such statements because of the potential impact on markets before the actual numbers come out,” Molina wrote.
Wiatrowski’s response was succinct.
“Let it be,” he wrote.
He also told Molina he alerted Nancy Potok, the chief statistician of the US, which prompted Molina to respond, “Understood. Are you ‘whispering words of wisdom’?” referring to lyrics of the famous Beatles song.
Neither the White House nor Potok responded to a request for comment. However, two BLS sources said concerns were discussed with Trump, who promised not to tweet about the jobs report in advance of its official release.
Jason Leopold is a senior investigative reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles. He is a 2018 Pulitzer finalist for international reporting, recipient of the IRE 2016 FOI award and a 2016 Newseum Institute National Freedom of Information Hall of Fame inductee.
Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.