Why Gary Cohn’s White House resignation is different

Trump has dumped one of the “adults in the room” — We don’t know exactly how decisions are made in the Trump administration. But people on the outside of the administration have likened Cohn’s role on economic policy to that of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’s on national security — an administration official with more traditional, establishment views looking to push the president away from his more unorthodox instincts. That role helps explain why the presence of Cohn in the White House has been a key source of reassurance to Wall Street and other market-minded constituencies. If Trump is willing to part with Cohn, is the president more likely to take other controversial steps on economic policy that he has hinted at in the past, such as pulling the U.S. out of NAFTA? Also, what if Trump no longer wants advisers who are in conflict with his views? Would he let Mattis resign if the two strongly disagreed on something?

People with good jobs are leaving the White House, suggesting deep staff dissatisfaction — I assume that working with Trump is difficult. That said, there are some major perks. You might, as Hicks did, get to meet the Pope. Cohn played a key role in writing a major tax bill. Former President Barack Obama’s economic policy directors all remained for at least 23 months. Cohn is leaving this prestigious job after only about a year. That two fairly senior advisers are departing the Trump administration in a week’s time — whatever the circumstances — is telling. Both Cohh and Hicks appear to have decided that the upside of remaining in the White House is outweighed by the downside.