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Gary Cohn to resign as WH economic adviser

President Donald Trump's top economic adviser, Gary Cohn, plans to resign, the White House announced.

Posted: Mar 8, 2018 4:17 PM
Updated: Mar 8, 2018 4:17 PM

President Donald Trump's top economic adviser Gary Cohn is resigning, the White House announced on Tuesday.

Cohn, who had been rumored just weeks ago as a potential next chief of staff, will leave the White House in the wake of his fierce disagreement with the President's decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. Cohn is expected to leave in the coming weeks, the White House said.

"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. He is a rare talent, and I thank him for his dedicated service to the American people," Trump said in a statement.

Trump addressed the news on Twitter Tuesday evening and said a decision would come soon.

"Will be making a decision soon on the appointment of new Chief Economic Advisor. Many people wanting the job - will choose wisely!" Trump tweeted.

Cohn's resignation sounded alarm bells in establishment circles in Washington and on Wall Street, where many viewed the former Goldman Sachs executive as a steadying influence on economic policy inside the Trump White House. His departure, combined with Trump's recent moves to recommit himself to his nationalist trade agenda, raised questions about the direction of the Trump administration and sent Dow futures plummeting 300 points.

"Wall Street won't be happy," said a senior Republican who has worked both at the White House and in finance. "We knew he was hanging in by a thread, but it is terrible news."

The latest shake-up also amplified the chaos that has consumed the White House in recent weeks, with Cohn becoming just the latest in a series of high-profile resignations. It was not immediately clear who would succeed him as director of the White House's National Economic Council.

Trump is likely to consider Larry Kudlow, a longtime informal adviser of the his, one source close to both men said. Some Trump allies are planning to encourage the President to tap Kudlow and it wouldn't be the first time that his name has been raised.

Amid rumors of Cohn's potential resignation in recent months, allies have floated Kudlow's name in conversations with the President and Trump has been receptive to the notion.

"Don't worry, I haven't forgotten about Larry," Trump told one ally earlier this year amid speculation Cohn might resign.

But tapping Kudlow would once again put the President at odds with his National Economic Council director, as Kudlow is an avid free-trader and has urged the President in recent days not to follow through on the steel and aluminum tariffs.

The New York Times first reported the news of Cohn's departure.

Tenuous relationship

Cohn's position with Trump has been tenuous since last summer, when Cohn rebuked the President over his comments about a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

While they smoothed over their relationship as Cohn successfully worked to get tax reform -- the President's only major legislative accomplishment -- passed, a person close to the matter said it "was never the same."

As recently as last week, Cohn was still thinking he could hold on -- and wanted to, this person says -- but losing the tariff fight made clear that it was time to leave, the person said.

"Trade was the last straw," the same person said.

In the days since Trump's surprise announcement, Cohn worked quietly to soften Trump's decision and convince him to backtrack -- a campaign that was amplified by Republican leaders on Capitol Hill -- but Trump learned of the efforts, became angry at Cohn's attempts and made that clear in the last 24 to 48 hours.

Trump was surprised to learn that Cohn was working to arrange a meeting with representatives from the auto and bottling industries in an effort to demonstrate the effects the steel and aluminum tariffs would have, a person familiar with the situation said.

The President has said he's not interested in such a meeting, and has grown angry at what he sees as attempts to deter him from the plan, speaking disparagingly of "globalists" during internal conversations over the past week, the person said.

Cohn said in a statement it had been an "honor to serve my country and enact pro-growth economic policies" and thanked Trump for the opportunity.

White House chief of staff John Kelly said he would "miss having him as a partner in the White House."

Disputes over trade, Charlottesville

The move is likely to embolden the economic nationalist wing of the Trump administration, which has successfully moved Trump to take aggressive steps on trade in recent weeks.

For months, Cohn led the internal opposition to Trump's protectionist interests, working to rein in Trump's desire to slap steep tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. But his campaign fell apart last week when Trump sidestepped Cohn and announced his plans to impose the tariffs during a hastily arranged meeting with US steel and aluminum executives.

Just weeks earlier, Cohn was rumored as a potential successor to White House chief of staff John Kelly -- a remarkable turnaround in the Trump-Cohn relationship. it nearly fell apart last summer after Cohn offered a thinly veiled public rebuke of the President's response to the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia. Cohn said then that the administration "can and must do better in consistently and unequivocally condemning" hate groups after Trump blamed both white supremacists and counter-protesters for Charlottesville and said there were "some very fine people" among those protesting alongside white supremacists.

At the time, Cohn acknowledged in an interview with the Financial Times the pressure he faced to resign amid Trump's comments, but said he had decided to stay.

For weeks after that rebuke, Trump privately fumed about Cohn to advisers inside and outside the White House, with sources signaling that Cohn was only remaining on because of his critical role on tax reform.

But the passage of tax reform would not be Cohn's final act in the White House, remaining on board for more than two months, with his allies saying he hoped to continue to counteract Trump's protectionist trade instincts.

Cohn was once in consideration to be the next Federal Reserve chairman, but Trump's anger at Cohn over his rebuke last summer took him out of consideration, CNN reported then.

The questions about Cohn's status inside the West Wing returned in the last week after Trump announced his plans to slap tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. That suspicion was furthered on Tuesday -- hours before the White House announced his plans to resign -- when Cohn was absent from a joint news conference the President was holding at the White House.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 751242

Reported Deaths: 13795
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1032931788
Lake556911009
Allen41692692
St. Joseph36990565
Hamilton36588417
Elkhart29398461
Tippecanoe22901226
Vanderburgh22556400
Porter19356325
Johnson18471389
Hendricks17682317
Clark13226195
Madison13149344
Vigo12614253
LaPorte12419221
Monroe12207176
Delaware10966198
Howard10321225
Kosciusko9630121
Hancock8576146
Bartholomew8169157
Warrick7860156
Floyd7811180
Grant7242179
Wayne7162201
Boone6966103
Morgan6761141
Dubois6218118
Marshall6209116
Cass6016110
Henry5900110
Dearborn589878
Noble581488
Jackson509076
Shelby501496
Lawrence4742122
Gibson444894
Clinton442355
Harrison441875
DeKalb439885
Montgomery438090
Whitley406543
Huntington402681
Steuben400159
Miami395269
Jasper388054
Knox375991
Putnam372960
Wabash361983
Ripley347170
Adams345555
Jefferson335886
White331953
Daviess3033100
Wells295281
Decatur289992
Greene286885
Fayette284864
Posey273835
LaGrange273072
Scott270156
Clay267148
Washington246036
Randolph244783
Jennings235349
Spencer234531
Starke228058
Fountain220948
Sullivan214643
Owen211858
Fulton202942
Jay200932
Carroll193620
Orange188255
Perry187237
Rush175926
Vermillion174844
Franklin170335
Tipton166246
Parke149416
Pike138234
Blackford136232
Pulaski120647
Newton113936
Brown104243
Crawford102516
Benton101714
Martin91715
Warren84015
Switzerland8148
Union72810
Ohio57911
Unassigned0420

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1108736

Reported Deaths: 20166
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1287201467
Cuyahoga1157922211
Hamilton813971250
Montgomery525481043
Summit484271001
Lucas43353820
Butler39013606
Stark33332929
Lorain25672505
Warren24591303
Mahoning22370603
Lake21207388
Clermont20117253
Delaware18852136
Licking16662222
Fairfield16574204
Trumbull16548482
Medina15610271
Greene15281248
Clark14237306
Wood13292200
Portage13251215
Allen11913239
Richland11605211
Miami10849225
Wayne9141223
Columbiana9032230
Muskingum8906135
Pickaway8663122
Tuscarawas8649250
Marion8642138
Erie8056165
Ashtabula7160179
Hancock6998132
Ross6944161
Geauga6838151
Scioto6534106
Belmont6157174
Union584549
Lawrence5731102
Jefferson5678158
Huron5546122
Sandusky5442126
Darke5420129
Seneca5348128
Washington5319109
Athens523960
Auglaize502187
Mercer487385
Shelby476895
Knox4571112
Madison444266
Ashland435797
Putnam4336103
Defiance432399
Fulton432074
Crawford4037110
Brown402461
Logan387677
Preble3855105
Clinton379166
Ottawa373681
Highland359665
Williams348278
Champaign344759
Guernsey324953
Jackson318254
Perry297350
Morrow291840
Fayette285450
Hardin275265
Henry273467
Holmes2701101
Coshocton269060
Van Wert247264
Adams243256
Pike242835
Gallia240650
Wyandot234556
Hocking220563
Carroll197348
Paulding176542
Meigs148440
Monroe136344
Noble136239
Harrison114138
Morgan109624
Vinton85517
Unassigned03
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