Gary Cohn drafted a letter of resignation in the tumultuous week after the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, according to the New York Times.
Cohn, the White House’s chief economic adviser, met with President Donald Trump in his New Jersey home last Friday, “scrapping his plans to spend the evening at his second home in the Hamptons,” the New York Times reported. Financial markets were rife with rumors that Cohn would resign, a story the White House insisted was untrue.
But Cohn apparently did come close to resigning, going as far as to draft a letter of resignation. He was under pressure from Wall Street associates, friends, and even family members to leave Trump’s White House following the president’s remarks about Charlottesville. Establishment media have inaccurately described those remarks as a defense of white nationalist protesters.
It remains unclear precisely what Cohn was threatening to resign over and what he got in exchange for staying with the administration. Trump has said that Cohn is on his short-list of potential nominees for the Federal Reserve.
One administration official speculated that Cohn may simply have been given permission to go public with his grievances against the president.
In an interview with the Financial Times, Cohn went further than any other administration official in publicly condemning the president’s Charlottesville comments. In the interview, he criticized Trump’s remarks and parroted the misleading line that left-wing Antifa forces in Charlottesville were simply “citizens standing up for equality and freedom.”
Cohn’s comments were very different from those of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who defended the president in answer to criticism from members of Yale’s class of 1985.
“I don’t believe the allegations against the president are accurate,” Mnuchin said.
The contrast may be due to the political backgrounds of the two men. Cohn has long been a Democrat and a major fundraiser for Democratic politicians. Mnuchin is a Republican, who was an early President Trump supporter and who served as the national finance chairman for the campaign.
Both men stood beside the president in the lobby of Trump Tower when Trump made his controversial remarks. And each apparently came away with very different interpretations of what was said. Mnuchin wound up defending the president while defending his decision to remain in the administration. In stark contrast, Cohn defended his own decision to remain in the administration and condemned the president’s comments.