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Gary Cohn resigning as top White House economic advisor

Resignation comes after rumored fight over tariffs

Gary Cohn is resigning from his position as White House National Economic Council director, the New York Times reported Tuesday.

Cohn joined the Trump administration early on, leaving his position as the second-in-command at Goldman Sachs, where he was long considered to be Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein’s eventual replacement.

During his time working in the Trump administration, Cohn was supposedly considered to be in the running to the next chair of the Federal Reserve, but was reportedly removed from the Fed chair shortlist after criticizing President Donald Trump’s response to the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia last year.

Cohn, who is Jewish, reportedly went so far as to draft a resignation letter and told the Financial Times that the Trump administration “must do better” about condemning white supremacists and the like.

"As a Jewish-American, I will not allow neo-Nazis ranting 'Jews will not replace us' to cause this Jew to leave his job. I feel deep empathy for all who have been targeted by these hate groups. We must all unite together against them," Cohn said in the interview, via CNBC.

Cohn remained in his post, but it appears that Trump’s recent announcement that the U.S. plans to impose a 25% tariff on steel imports and a 10% tariff on aluminum was Cohn’s bridge too far.

From the New York Times report:

The officials insisted there was no single factor behind the departure of Mr. Cohn, who heads the National Economic Council. But his decision to leave came after he seemed poised to lose an internal struggle amid a Wild West-style process over Mr. Trump’s plan to impose large tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

White House officials said that Mr. Cohn was leaving on cordial terms with the president and that they planned to continue discussing policy even after his departure.

“Gary has been my chief economic advisor 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.”

Again from the New York Times:

Yet the departure of Mr. Cohn, a free-trade oriented Democrat who fended off a number of nationalist-minded policies during his year in the Trump administration, could have a ripple effect on the president’s economic decisions and on the financial sector.

Even the mere threat, last August, that Mr. Cohn might leave sent the financial markets tumbling.

And his planned exit comes as the president is making a more aggressive return to the nationalist policies that helped sweep him into office as the 2018 midterm elections approach.

“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 in a statement. “I am grateful to the president for giving me this opportunity and wish him and the administration great success in the future.”

Cohn is reportedly set to leave in the coming weeks.

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