Wednesday, 12 December, 2018

White House chief economic adviser Gary Cohn resigns

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Nellie Chapman | 07 March, 2018, 10:32

It is hard to imagine that anyone outside the President's current protectionist cheer-leading squad would volunteer to put up with more of what happened during the past week. In a hail Mary play before his exit, Cohn set up a meeting between Trump and manufacturing executives who opposed the tariff.

"He is a rare talent, and I thank him for his dedicated service to the American people", the president added.

Cohn, who heads the National Economic Council, is pro-free trade and is reportedly concerned the potential tariffs would be a detriment to USA growth.

Cohn didn't answer, the people said.

"I like conflict", Trump said.

For Cohn, the final straw came after Trump's decision to impose new tariffs on aluminum and steel.

It also startled U.S. automakers and firms that rely on those metals and the free flow of trade.

Trump even joked about future departures in his upbeat and self-deprecating remarks on Saturday at the Gridiron Dinner, a tony event that brings journalists and politicians together for bipartisan ribbing.

Numerous countries would be likely to dispute the U.S. tariffs nearly immediately if they were implemented.

Cohn, a registered Democrat, had no political experience when he took the job as director of Trump's National Economic Council, but he was no stranger to rough-and-tumble debate, having started his professional career in the commodity pits of the New York Mercantile Exchange. "So many people want to come in", he said.

Beyond Cohn, in the last week, Hicks, one of his longest-serving aides, announced she was also leaving.

Just hours after the Oval Office meeting on Tuesday, the White House announced Cohn was gone, the latest in a string of staff departures from the White House in recent weeks. That followed the departures of deputy national security adviser Dina Powell and Cohn's deputy on the National Economic Council, Jeremy Katz. "Tariffs? Sir! I can not remain inside this government another moment!" she wrote while also stating, "This is the state of public integrity and morality in the Trump era, and Gary Cohn is only the latest emblem".

Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan has published his strong opposition to the tariffs proposal. "It doesn't hurt us". With both Mr Cohn and Mr Bannon now gone, economic policy may be steered more by treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin and Mr Ross. "I like seeing it and I think it is the best way to go".

Trump acknowledged he is a tough boss to work for, saying he enjoys watching his closest aides fight over policy.

Already, European leaders have vowed that the European Union would respond to USA tariffs by imposing tariffs on such iconic American products as Levi's jeans, Harley-Davidson motorcycles and Kentucky bourbon.

Mexico's Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo vowed on Tuesday to fight back against U.S. tariffs and target "the things they export that are most politically sensitive". "I personally regret this [resignation] very much".

He also criticized Europe for making it "almost impossible for us do business with them". This spurred Trump to warn that the US would respond by imposing a retaliatory tax on auto imports from Europe and to tweet that "trade wars are good, and easy to win".

Economist Ian Shepherdson of High-Frequency economics said Trump is "playing with fire".