The White House has announced that President Donald Trump’s top economic adviser Gary Cohn is resigning.
His resignation is the latest in a series of high-profile departures from President Trump’s team.
There has been speculation that Gary Cohn, a supporter of free trade, was angered by President Trump’s plans to impose tariffs on aluminum and steel imports.
In a statement released by the White House, Gary Cohn said it had been “an honor to serve my country”.
He had helped President Trump push through his sweeping tax reforms late last year.
The 57-year-old former president of the Goldman Sachs bank and President Trump were never believed to be close.
Gary Cohn wasn’t specific about the reasons, saying in a statement it had 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”.
Once that mission had been achieved, a number of differences may have prompted the departure, including the possible looming trade tariff war and his differences on that issue with trade adviser Peter Navarro and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.
Gary Cohn had reportedly set up a meeting between President Trump and business executives who opposed the tariffs move. However, the president pulled out of that meeting and on March 6 reportedly asked Gary Cohn in the Oval Office to back the tariffs publicly. Gary Cohn did not answer, sources told Bloomberg.
In August 2017, Gary Cohn had also criticized President Trump over his reaction to a far-right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, saying the administration “can and must do better”.
The president’s economic adviser was reported to have drafted a resignation letter after the event.
Gary Cohn’s exact departure date had yet to be determined.
In a statement, President Trump said: “Gary… 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.”
Analysts were pointing to the resignation of Gary Cohn, a free market advocate, as one reason behind a drop in shares across Asia on March 7. The Nikkei closed 0.77% down and the Hang Seng 1.03%.
The dollar continued its retreat against the yen, down from 113 at the start of the year to 105.6 on March 7.
European stocks also opened lower, the FTSE 100 and pan-Europe STOXX 600 falling about 0.5% after opening.
According to new reports, Donald Trump is expected to appoint Gary Cohn, the third Goldman Sachs executive, to his administration.
Despite vilifying Goldman Sachs while campaigning, the president-elect is tipped to pick Goldman president Gary Cohn to lead the White House National Economic Council.
Gary Cohn would join former colleagues Steven Mnuchin – the incoming Treasury Secretary – and Steve Bannon – the new senior White House adviser.
Donald Trump had said if Hillary Clinton won, she would be the bank’s puppet.
Image source Wikimedia
In another development, reports suggested that Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson was being considered for the crucial post of secretary of state. Veteran Republican politician Mitt Romney and others have also been discussed for the role.
Another CEO, Andrew Liveris of Dow Chemical Co, has been picked by Donald Trump to head up an “American manufacturing council” tasked with bringing industry back to the US.
Meanwhile, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani ruled himself out of contention for a post in Donald Trump’s cabinet.
Rudy Giuliani had also been mentioned as a possible nominee for secretary of state but his foreign business dealings raised questions over his suitability.
In a statement, the Trump transition team said Rudy Giuliani had informed Donald Trump of his withdrawal at a November 29 meeting.
Goldman’s dominance of Donald Trump’s economic team is not incompatible, the president-elect’s advisers say, with his campaign promise to put the interests of Americans on main street ahead of Wall Street.
During the presidential campaign, Donald Trump had accused the bank of belonging to a “global power structure” that he said was robbing the working class.
Donald Trump had also poured scorn on rival Ted Cruz, saying that Goldman Sachs had “total control over him”.
On December 9, Kellyanne Conway told MSNBC: “You’re not going to find better people than those who have been at the top of finance, the top of our markets, understand the way our markets work.”
Gary Cohn, 56, does not need to face a Senate confirmation hearing for his White House post, which will involve co-ordinating economic policy across the Trump administration.
He struggled with dyslexia as a child and once told his parents that if they were really lucky he might grow up to be a truck driver.
According to Reuters, Gary Cohn retains $190 million worth of stock in Goldman, where he was known for his abrasive manner.
Steve Mnuchin, the incoming treasury secretary, does need to face a hearing before senators, and is likely to be questioned about his Wall Street background.
Goldman Sachs has produced several Treasury secretaries, White House chiefs of staff and top economic advisers.
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