The White House is downplaying rumors of Gary Cohn’s departure, after the chief economic advisor got overruled on President Donald Trump’s decision to impose steep tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.
Asked Friday whether Cohn planned to stay in the job, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters she had no reason to believe otherwise. Reports suggested Cohn, who opposes the tariffs, might leave the administration if he lost an internal tug-of-war over the policy.
For a while Thursday morning, it looked like Cohn and his anti-protectionist stance might have won out. The White House first delayed a tariff announcement, despite Trump’s repeated pledges to scrap trade deals he says hurt American workers and hit back at countries for trade practices he deems unfair.
A decision not to impose tariffs would have capped an incredible turnaround for Cohn, who just last year was in Trump’s doghouse for criticizing the president’s divisive comments blaming people on “both sides” for violence at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va. The economic advisor also was a key player in steering Trump’s only landmark legislative win, the sweeping tax cuts he signed into law in December.
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