As President Donald Trump’s first term goes on, the White House continues to lose top staffers. Just last week, on February 28th, communications director Hope Hicks resigned, making her the third person to leave the position. And yesterday, March 6th, Trump lost another top aide when economic adviser Gary Cohn resigned. But why did Cohn leave?
Part of Cohn’s resignation has to do with trade.
According to the New York Times, Cohn’s leaving was motivated in part by Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum. This means that U.S. companies that import either of these materials would have to pay hefty taxes — 25 percent for steel and 10 percent for aluminum. Trump has argued that the tariffs would provide an incentive for companies to use American-made steel, thus creating jobs. But others argued that the new charges would ignite a trade war and result in higher steel and aluminum prices. Cohn, a Democrat who is a fierce advocate of free trade, was among those opposed to the tariffs.
Cohn was also unhappy with Trump’s attitude toward the alt-right.
Trump’s lackluster approach to tackling white supremacy also reportedly turned Cohn away. After white nationalists killed an anti-fascist protester at a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in August, Trump said there had been violence “on many sides.” And Cohn, who is Jewish, criticized the president‘s failure to condemn the alt-right and said in an interview with the Financial Times that he faced pressure to resign.
With Cohn’s resignation, the White House has lost an adviser with a moderate, mainstream view on trade. Cohn, a former Goldman Sachs executive, reportedly helped rein in Trump’s more aggressive trade proposals, such as ending NAFTA, and without him, some worry about the country’s economic future.
According to NPR, 43 percent of top White House positions have seen turnover since Trump’s term began — an incredibly high rate. And the loss of Cohn as an economic adviser is one more symptom of the chaos plaguing the Trump administration. We’ll be watching to see who replaces Cohn and how the White House responds to its staffers’ resignations.