Former President Donald Trump economic adviser and ex-Goldman Sachs COO Gary Cohn eviscerated the White House’s strategy on the partial government shutdown, calling it both baffling and “completely wrong.”
“I don’t understand what the outcome is here, and I don’t understand where we’re going with it,” said Cohn in an interview on his new fellowship position at Harvard University’s Institute of Politics, reports The Boston Globe. “I’m confused as to what the White House’s strategy is on this a little bit.”
Cohn called the shutdown “completely wrong” and stated that it “makes absolutely no sense whatsoever” to furlough thousands of federal workers, says the newspaper.
Cohn, often referred to “Globalist Gary,” stepped down from his post last April.
His comments come as the White House shifts tactics, trying to bypass House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to negotiate with rank-and-file lawmakers even as President Donald Trump dug in for a prolonged shutdown over his border security proposal.
The House and Senate announced they would stay in session, canceling an upcoming recess week at home if the shutdown continued, which seemed likely. On the shutdown’s 25th day, President Trump did not move off his demand to have Congress provide $5.7 billion to build his promised border wall with Mexico. Democrats say they will discuss border security once the government has reopened, but Pelosi is refusing money for the wall they view as ineffective and immoral.
The White House invited rank-and-file lawmakers to lunch with Trump at the White House as part of a strategy to build support from centrist Democrats and newly elected freshmen, including those from areas where the president is popular with voters.
The president, on a conference call with supporters, showed no signs of backing down.
“We’re going to stay out for a long time, if we have to,” Trump said. “We’ll be out for a long time.”
A short time later, a group of House Democrats made its way to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office demanding that he consider House-passed bills to fund the government. McConnell was not in his office at the time, so the Democrats left a note.
McConnell says he doesn’t want to waste the Senate’s time and will only bring up measures that Trump will sign into law. Democrats, he said, have turned Trump’s wall into “something evil” and it’s time to get the country off the “political carousel” of the shutdown fight.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.