Are we about to lose the White House’s top populist and top “globalist” in the span of a week? Remember, Scaramucci, Priebus, and Bannon all departed on Fridays.
FT: Did you consider resigning after Charlottesville?
GC: 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 fulfil my commitment to work on behalf of the American people. But I also feel compelled to voice my distress over the events of the last two weeks.
Citizens standing up for equality and freedom can never be equated with white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and the KKK. 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. 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.
Does he want to get fired? Axios is totally right to note that Trump will bristle at this not only on the merits, because Cohn is criticizing his Charlottesville response as insufficient, but because he’s siding with the dreaded media in leveling that criticism. Trump is so annoyed that people found his initial comments about the Charlottesville clash lacking that he’s vented in no fewer than three different forums — on Twitter, at his Phoenix rally the other night, and at the famous press conference last Tuesday where he riffed about the “very fine people” on both sides. Now here’s Cohn siding with the media against him.
But it gets worse. Someone’s been whispering to the Times that Cohn went so far as to prepare a resignation letter:
The sharp critique from Mr. Trump’s top economic adviser, Gary D. Cohn, came nearly two weeks after deadly violence in Charlottesville, Va., in response to a rally led by white nationalist groups. Mr. Cohn, who is Jewish, seriously considered resigning and even drafted a letter of resignation, according to two people familiar with the draft…
In the days after the Charlottesville violence, Mr. Cohn’s family — including his wife — told him he needed to think seriously about departing, according to two people briefed on the discussions. Several of his friends in the business community also urged him to step away from the administration. Mr. Cohn is a former executive at Goldman Sachs.
Cohn and Trump reportedly spoke privately about Cohn’s misgivings. The president probably thought that was the end of it. Imagine his surprise upon opening the Financial Times today and reading this. If I didn’t know better I’d think that Cohn was trying to martyr himself by getting Trump to fire him in lieu of resigning, but (a) that would take him out of the running to be chairman of the Fed, a position he allegedly covets, and (b) the markets freaked out last week after rumors circulated that Cohn, Wall Street’s pipeline to the president, was on his way out. Cohn’s pride could cost a lot of investors a lot of money. If he’s worried about that, why poke Trump this way and risk getting canned?