White House economic advisor Gary Cohn is resigning, as Donald Trump pushes forward with a potential trade war that Cohn vociferously opposed.
“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,” Cohn said.
Trump said the former Goldman Sachs executive is a “rare talent, and I thank him for his dedicated service to the American people.”
Since the beginning of Trump’s administration, Cohn has advised on economic policy and chaired the National Economic Council. As Tim Fernholz has written previously, ”The role entails balancing competing voices and power centers to provide the right information to the president to make decisions about all aspects of economic policy. Management wise, it’s a step down for someone used to operating a global megabank. But the internal politics will be just as fractious.”
Cohn fought bitterly with Trump and his hawkish advisor Peter Navarro over last week’s announcement of steel tariffs. He had organized a meeting on Thursday between the president and industry executives who would be hurt by the decision, including automakers, Bloomberg reports.
Trump so far has given little indication he is backing down. “Trade wars aren’t so bad,” Trump said during a press conference Tuesday. “We’re doing tariffs on steel.”
Cohn’s office declined to comment on the new tariffs to Quartz.
Last year, Cohn stuck by Trump’s side even when the president failed to fully condemn a white supremacist demonstration in Charlottesville, Virginia, telling the Financial Times, “I have come under enormous pressure both to resign and to remain in my current position. As a patriotic American, I am reluctant to leave my post as director of the National Economic Council because I feel a duty to fulfill my commitment to work on behalf of the American people.”
“I believe this administration can and must do better in consistently and unequivocally condemning these groups and do everything we can to heal the deep divisions that exist in our communities,” he said later.
The Times noted that “even the mere threat, last August, that Mr. Cohn might leave sent the financial markets tumbling.”