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Stephen Moore spoke at a panel Wednesday called “Fed Future,” yet whatever the future holds for the nation’s Federal Reserve, Moore won’t be part of it. Trump sought to nominate him for a seat on the board, but Moore’s bid collapsed last week amid media reports that showed he had made demeaning comments about women over the years. CNN, for example, had dug up old columns that Moore had written as an economics commentator in which he said women shouldn’t be permitted to referee college basketball games.
“Did I say some outrageous things? Yes. And I apologized for it,” Moore told me after his appearance, sitting at a hallway table near the “Glamsquad” room, where hairstylists worked their magic.
Trump had encouraged Moore to hang in and fight for Senate confirmation, Moore said, but he decided the pummeling was enough. He likened himself to a bloodied boxer whom the White House kept pushing back into the ring for another punishing round. In a final conversation with Trump last week, he told the president he felt like he had let him down. Trump disagreed. “He said, ‘No, you didn’t let me down. This was a great fight,’” Moore told me, adding that there were likely more reports to come. “Look, I have a two-mile-long paper trail. It wasn’t going to stop. There was going to be another story the next day, and another and another,” he said. “It was going to be too much. It was stressful and traumatic for my family. And we decided to cut our losses.”
A session billed as “The Past, Present & Future of Trump” showcased two officials who gravitated to Trump’s orbit in the early days of the 2016 campaign: former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who had been the first senator to endorse Trump, and ex–New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who competed against Trump in the Republican primary and later led his transition team.
Sessions’s story is one of the strangest of the Trump era. His endorsement, given his background as a longtime Alabama lawmaker, helped legitimize Trump’s candidacy long before the rank-and-file GOP coalesced around the reality-TV star. Trump made him attorney general, but the gratitude ended soon afterward. Incensed by Sessions’s decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigation, Trump subjected him to multiple rounds of public humiliation before firing him right after the midterm elections.
The conference was Sessions’s chance to tell the world how he felt about it all—to say, perhaps, that Trump was out of line. What was it like to be on the receiving end of Trump’s Twitter tirades? asked the panel’s moderator, the MSNBC anchor Stephanie Ruhle.
But Sessions said … not much. Indeed, he sounded much like the Trump loyalist who proudly put on a red MAGA hat at the February 2016 rally in Huntsville, Alabama, where he offered his endorsement. “I think it was clear that the president was very upset” by his recusal, Sessions told the audience.