Gary Cohn, Trump's top economic adviser, to resign

(RNN) - Top White House economic adviser Gary Cohn plans to resign as head of the National Economic Council.

"Gary has been my chief economic adviser and did a superb job in driving our agenda, helping to deliver historic tax cuts and reforms and unleashing the American economy once again," President Donald Trump said in a statement. "He is a rare talent, and I thank him for his dedicated service to the American people."

It's the latest resignation for the Trump administration. Hope Hicks announced her intention to leave the administration as communications director last week.

"I am grateful to the President for giving me this opportunity and wish him and the Administration great success in the future," Cohn said in a statement.

When he was selected to head the National Economic Council, Cohn said, "I share President-elect Trump's vision of making sure every American worker has a secure place in a thriving economy."

Trump said at the time that he would "use all of his vast knowledge and experience to make sure the American people start winning again."

Cohn joined the Trump administration from Goldman Sachs, where he was chief operating officer. As a registered Democrat and mainstream financial figure, he was seen as a possibly moderating influence against Trump's protectionist instincts.

If that was the case, his impact was mixed.

One of Trump's first economic moves was to cancel the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The free-trade compact between 13 Asia-Pacific nations is the kind of market-oriented policy that typically enjoys broad support from the business establishment.

But the president has so far left another free-trade deal in place. Trump hasn't withdrawn from the North American Free Trade Agreement, a pact he derided on the campaign trail.

Cohn also wasn't able to dissuade Trump from imposing recent tariffs on steel and aluminum. Politico cited a source close to Cohn describing the policy as an affront to his "core beliefs."

"It's just something he feels very passionate about," the source told the outlet.

The New York Times, citing "people familiar with his thinking" reported the tariffs were a catalyst for his exit. People close to him said he had accomplished much of what he wanted to in the position, most notably the tax cut.

Cohn reportedly was ready to quit once before. During the backlash to the White House's response to a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, VA, in August 2017, he went as far as to draft a letter of resignation. 

Prior to joining the Trump administration, Cohn spent more than 25 years rising through the ranks at Goldman. He was made a partner in 1994, the same year as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and he became COO in 2006. According to his financial disclosure forms, he is worth between $252-$611 million. 

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