Gary Cohn, the top White House economic official, is “distressed” over President Donald Trump’s failure to immediately condemn the neo-Nazis and white supremacists who incited violence in Charlottesville.
In a recent interview with the Financial Times, Cohn, who is Jewish, expressed his concern about the nature of the comments Trump made defending white supremacists. Cohn said Trump “can and must do better in consistently and unequivocally condemning these groups and do everything we can to heal the deep divisions that exist in our communities.”
Cohn’s comments are one of the few from a top aide within the White House that are critical of Trump’s reaction to Charlottesville. He was at Trump Tower, standing uncomfortably behind the president, when Trump claimed there were “very fine people on both sides” at the Charlottesville rally. According to The New York Times, the comments may cause Cohn to leave his post. In the days following Charlottesville, Cohn faced “enormous pressure” from his family to leave the administration, several business friends told him the same. Last Friday he met with Trump at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey and is said to have even drafted a resignation letter. Cohn, however, is giving Trump a second chance and plans to remain a part of the administration.
Cohn likely chose not to resign at this particular moment, when he is working with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to enact comprehensive tax reform, a win the administration desperately needs after its multiple failed attempts at repealing and replacing Obamacare.
“As a patriotic American, I am reluctant to leave my post . . . because I feel a duty to fulfil my commitment to work on behalf of the American people. But I also feel compelled to voice my distress over the events of the last two weeks. Citizens standing up for equality and freedom can never be equated with white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and the KKK,” Cohn told the Financial Times. “As a Jewish American, I will not allow neo-Nazis ranting ‘Jews will not replace us’ to cause this Jew to leave his job. I feel deep empathy for all who have been targeted by these hate groups. We must all unite together against them.”
This the second interview in recent weeks from a top White House aide that goes against the president, the first being the former White House chief of staff Steve Bannon’s interview with the American Prospect, where he defied Trump’s position on North Korea. Bannon left the White House days after the interview was published. Axios reported Friday that Trump will “explode” when he reads Cohn’s interview.
The Breitbart-wing of the Republican party has already come out against Cohn, using the world emoji to bracket off his name and identify him as a “globalist,” a heavily-coded word regarded as anti-Semitic.
And it begins… pic.twitter.com/MCkLnnagtL
— Rick Wilson (@TheRickWilson) August 25, 2017
The president is sensitive almost any criticism. The Republican National Committee employed a staffer whose sole role was to get a folder full of positive news coverage of the White House to Trump twice a day. This week, that staffer resigned.