Gary Cohn, officially announced his departure from his position as President Trump’s White House Economic Advisor and head of the administration’s Economic Council this afternoon. Cohn, a former president of Goldman Sachs is in the cleaning out his desk mode and will vacate his office within the next several days. Cohn issued a statement:
“It has been an honor to serve my country and enact pro-growth economic policies to benefit the American people, in particular the passage of historic tax reform. I am grateful to the President for giving me this opportunity and wish him and the administration great success in the future.”
Observers believe the Trump administration negotiated terms of Cohn’s departure in order to provide political cover to Donald Trump, who has had a steady exodus of aides and cabinet officials over the past 14 months, most recently including his communications director, Hope Hicks. Trump’s response to Cohn’s resignation is as follows:
“Gary has been my chief economic adviser and did a superb job in driving our agenda, helping to deliver historic tax cuts and reforms and unleashing the American economy once again,” Trump said in a statement. “He is a rare talent, and I thank him for his dedicated service to the American people.”
The announcement of Cohn’s departure was not unexpected by D.C. insiders. The first notable sign of Cohn’s discomfort with the behavior of the president, was last August, when Trump failed to clearly and unequivocally condemn white supremacists after violence broke out in Charlottesville, Virginia. Cohn was said to be particularly incensed about Trump having said that there were “good people on both sides” at the rally in which three protester died and 34 others were injured.
More recently, it was reported that Cohn strenuously objected to Trump’s plans to impose steel and aluminum tariffs that Cohn and other economists and trade exports warned would initiate a devastating trade war with America’s largest trading partners. The final straw, it is believed, is when Trump backed out of a trade association meeting Cohn had scheduled for the president to hear from American businesses that would be negatively impacted by Trump’s proposed tariffs.
The timing of Mr. Cohn’s announcement is particularly ironic, given the fact that earlier in the day, Trump tweeted the following in reaction to the criticism he has been receiving from various corners about the disorder and upheaval of the West Wing and the remarkable number of people departing the administration.
“The new Fake News narrative is that there is CHAOS in the White House. Wrong! People will always come & go, and I want strong dialogue before making a final decision…There is no Chaos, only great energy!”
Trump’s statement in response to Gary Cohn’s resignation underlined the cognitive dissonance many have experienced with Trump’s comments, that seem to defy the reality of the chaos taking place at 1600 Pennsylvania.
“The White House has tremendous energy, it has tremendous spirit. It is a great place to be working. Many, many people want every single job,” Trump said. “Believe me, everybody wants to work in the White House. They all want a piece of that Oval Office, they all want a piece of the West Wing.”
The Brookings Institution released a report in January – even before another raft of exits of top White House officials, that detailed that a record 34% of Trump’s “A team” — a denomination encompassing 60 staffers from the White House and the Executive Office” — resigned during Trump’s first year in office. By comparison, the Obama administration experienced a 9 percent resignation rate and the Bush 43 administration – 6%.