President Donald Trump gave his departing economic adviser a round of applause on Thursday morning in what was to be the former Goldman Sachs executive’s final Cabinet meeting.
Cohn announced his resignation two days ago and will be leaving the White House at an unspecified date in the coming weeks. He’s expected to return to the private sector.
‘This is Gary Cohn’s last meeting in the cabinet, of the cabinet,’ Trump announced. ‘He’s been terrific. He may be a globalist, but I still like him.’
The president said that Cohn, one of his earliest hires, could return, joking that he would perhaps come back after making ‘another couple of hundred million.’
President Donald Trump gave his departing economic adviser a round of applause on Thursday morning in what was to be the former Goldman Sachs executive’s final Cabinet meeting.Markets took an early tumble as they opened for the first time since President Trump’s chief economic advisor Gary Cohn announced he would leave the White House
Cohn resigned Tuesday evening after reportedly telling White House chief of staff John Kelly, ‘I’m working at like 20 percent of my capacity.’
The senior White House aide offered to stay on but only in a role where he’d be more utilized, according to Axios.
On Tuesday evening, after regular trading hours, the White House announced Cohn’s departure, confirming what eagle-eyed White House reporters had already suspected. They were tipped off by the National Economic Council head’s absence at the president’s afternoon press conference.
Cohn’s status had been the subject of speculation since last August when he countered the president’s stance on the race riot in Charlottesville.
Once tax reform legislation passed in December, Cohn’s departure was considered all but inevitable. A trade battle within the administration that Cohn lost reportedly cemented the former investment baker’s future.
A globalist, whose world view was in opposition to the president’s own, Cohn found himself at odds in the administration with the likes of former chief strategist Steve Bannon and senior policy adviser Stephen Miller.
Trump said Thursday that he believes that Cohn is truly a nationalist at heart.
‘He is seriously a globalist, there’s no question, but you know what in his own way he’s a nationalist because he loves our country,’ Trump asserted.
The president suggested that Cohn might not be making his final Cabinet appearance of the administration, especially if 2020 goes the Trump campaign’s way.
‘He’s gonna go out, and make another couple of hundred million, and then he’s gonna maybe come back,’ Trump said to laughter. ‘You might come back, right?’ he asked Cohn.
Cohn replied, ‘Absolutely.’
Seven years is a long time, Trump said, ‘But I have a feeling you’ll be back.
‘I don’t know if I can put him in the same position, though,’ Trump jested. ‘He’s not quite as strong on those tariffs as we want him.’
Trump said that he’d been ‘great’ and had worked well with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Vice President Mike Pence on achieving tax cuts.
‘They have been far beyond, Gary, I would say our wildest expectations.’
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders would not rule out a Cohn comeback in a Wednesday briefing, perhaps in a higher ranking position.
‘Certainly, they maintain a strong relationship and are going to continue that relationship, and certainly Gary will continue to be an advocate for the President,’ she said.
On the shortlist to replace Cohn is Peter Navarro, second from right. He’s the director of the president’s trade council. Navarro has said he doesn’t want the gig, though
On Tuesday evening, Trump, who had praised Cohn as a ‘rare talent’ in a statement announcing his departure, said he would soon name a replacement.
‘Will be making a decision soon on the appointment of new Chief Economic Advisor,’ he said. ‘Many people wanting the job – will choose wisely.’
The president’s spokeswoman gave no indication of which way the president was leaning in a Fox News interview on Wednesday morning from the White House lawn.
‘Look, that will happen when the president is ready to make that announcement,’ she said of a Cohn replacement. ‘I’m certainly not going to get ahead of him and try do that right this second.’
She adamantly refused to discuss the open position during her daily briefing with reporters, as well.
‘I’m not going to get ahead of the President’s announcement on who will replace Gary,’ she said.
On the shortlist was said to be Peter Navarro, director of the president’s trade council, and CNBC’s Larry Kudlow, both of whom have said they do not want the job.
Navarro, like Commerce Secretary Ross, favors steel and aluminum tariffs and has become the face of the White House’s sales pitch.
The Dow opened at a loss of 300 points on Wednesday as Nasdaq and the S&P dipped by 0.5 percent after Cohn’s surprise resignation
Appearing on Bloomberg Television on Wednesday morning, Navarro said he has a ‘full plate’ and said, ‘I’m not on that list, let me be clear.’
Trump was holding a meeting on Thursday afternoon with steel executives, where he was expected to sign two proclamations outlining the tariffs that Cohn and many Republicans have warned Trump will lead to a trade war with the European Union.
Three countries so far could be exempted from the tariffs, Trump now says — Mexico, Canada and Australia.
‘We’re negotiating with Mexico, we’re negotiating with Canada, and the NAFTA, and depending on whether or not we reach a deal, also very much involved with that is national defense. But if we reach a deal, it’s most likely that we won’t be charging those two countries the tariffs,’ he stated at his Cabinet meeting.
Throwing out Australia as another possibility, he said, ‘We have some friends and some enemies where we have been tremendously taken advantage of over the years on trade and on military.’
The tariffs are to be 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum coming from all other countries, for now.
‘I’ll have a right to go up or down, depending on the country, and I’ll have a right to drop out countries or add countries,’ Trump said. ‘We just want fairness. Because we have not been treated fairly by other countries.’