Just minutes after President Trump told the press that he would indeed move forward on significant tariffs on steel and aluminum, and reiterated that he believes a trade war will be good for the United States, The New York Times reported that top Trump economic advisor Gary Cohn will be stepping down from the administration. Cohn heads the National Economic Council, and he had been fighting hard against Trump’s backward protectionism.
Trump has already acknowledged Cohn’s ouster — he told the Times, “Gary has been my chief economic adviser and did a superb job in driving our agenda, helping to deliver historic tax cuts and reforms and unleashing the American economy once again. He is a rare talent, and I thank him for his dedicated service to the American people.”
Cohn’s departure means a strengthened hand for White House chief of staff John Kelly, who had widely been rumored to be on the chopping block just a few weeks ago, with Cohn as a possible candidate to replace him. Cohn was seen inside the White House as a moderating influence on Trump, particularly on trade issues. Just last week, Cohn spent time attempting to mobilize members of the business community to reach out to Trump to lobby him against raising tariffs. Trump seemingly rejected such advice, and hinted over the weekend that staff changes were afoot:
Trump is operating off his own script now. His trusted advisors have apparently quit or been marginalized, from Hope Hicks to Rob Porter to Jared Kushner. The influence of various factions has waned and waxed — Peter Navarro now seems to be in the ascendance on trade, despite his own Democratic background. With Republicans having already passed main planks of their agenda in the form of tax cuts and the end of the individual mandate, Trump is pursuing his own agenda items. And Cohn’s exit could be the beginning of the true era of Trumpism.