WASHINGTON ― Federal Reserve chairwoman Janet Yellen resolutely dismissed Donald Trump’s attacks on her integrity at a Wednesday press conference.
The GOP nominee accused Yellen of keeping interest rates low in order to prop up the economy and thereby bolster President Barack Obama’s legacy. Trump went so far as to say that Yellen, an Obama appointee, “should be ashamed of herself.”
Yellen vehemently defended the central bank’s independence while speaking to reporters after the announcement that the Fed would not raise its key interest rate.
“Congress very wisely established the Federal Reserve as an independent agency in order to insulate monetary policy from short-term political pressures,” Yellen said. “I can say emphatically that partisan politics plays no role in our decisions about the appropriate stance of monetary policy.”
“We do not discuss politics at our meetings,” she added. “And we do not take politics into account in our decisions.”
Yellen reiterated her firm remarks in response to another question about Trump’s comments later in the press conference.
It was an especially adept rebuttal, because Yellen managed to shut down Trump without once mentioning him by name. Had she done so, the central bank chief might have fallen into the very trap Trump set for her and prompted new allegations of partisanship.
In keeping with this careful behavior, Yellen also declined to answer a question about the economic impact of restoring tariffs on imports. It was a clear attempt to avoid wading into presidential politics. Trump has proposed restricting trade through tariffs to protect American manufacturing and retaliate against unfair trade practices.
But Yellen’s emphasis on the apolitical character of the Fed seemed equally aimed at quieting many analysts’ suggestions that the Fed would not raise interest rates before the November election lest it be seen as meddling in politics.
She insisted that Fed officials could indeed decide to raise the benchmark interest rate at their November meeting, which takes place just a week before the election.
Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.