Headed Out

Trump’s Tariff Decision Not Sole Reason for Gary Cohn’s White House Exit

The president’s chief economic adviser did feel slighted by Trump’s move to tax foreign steel—which he had opposed—but it wasn’t the sole impetus for his resignation, sources say.

Photo Illustration by Lyne Lucien/The Daily Beast

White House chief economic adviser Gary Cohn had been talking for some time about a return to the private sector before confirming on Tuesday his decision to leave the administration, two sources familiar with his thinking told the Daily Beast.

The former Goldman Sachs president and chief operating officer felt as though he’d left his mark on the nation after President Trump signed a Republican tax bill in December (after which Trump reportedly told friends dining at Mar-a-Lago that they “all just got a lot richer”), those sources said.

Cohn had floated the idea of resigning after Trump’s defense of the “very fine people” who marched with white supremacists at the Charlottesville rally where Heather Heyer was murdered, but ultimately decided to stay with the White House.

His decision to depart comes days after Trump abruptly announced he would impose tariffs on foreign steel, a move that could spark a trade war. Cohn had fiercely opposed such a plan and did not receive advance notification it was coming.

The sources familiar with his thinking said he felt slighted by Trump’s decision but that it was not the sole impetus for his departure.