- Gary Cohn was “alarmed” by Trump’s response to the Charlottesville rally, according to a new book.
- Mike Pence reportedly praised Cohn after the economic advisor “unloaded” on Trump over the rally.
- WSJ reporter Michael C. Bender chronicled Trump’s first term and what led to his 2020 loss.
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As the director of the National Economic Council, Gary Cohn was one of former President Donald Trump’s most trusted advisors on issues pertaining to economic policy.
However, after the 2017 “Unite the Right” white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, which left counterprotester Heather Heyer dead and multiple people injured, Cohn was dissatisfied with Trump’s response to the incident, according to a forthcoming book by Wall Street Journal reporter Michael C. Bender.
The rally and its political ramifications were detailed in an excerpt of the book, “Frankly We Did Win This Election’: The Inside Story of How Donald Trump Lost,” which was published in Politico Magazine on Friday.
After the rally, Trump gave a polarizing response where he suggested that people on both ends of the racial divide had some bad actors.
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides — on many sides,” he said.
Cohn, who is Jewish, had grown “despondent” with Trump’s response to the Charlottesville rally, according to the book.
As Cohn stood near Trump at an infrastructure news conference just days after the rally, he was “increasingly alarmed and uncomfortable” with the response, and later “unloaded” on the former president in the Oval Office, according to the book.
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Bender reported that Cohn informed Trump that his “lack of clarity had been harmful to the country” and that he created a pressure-filled environment for staffers in the White House.
Cohn then told Trump that he might have to leave his position, but no one in the room spoke up to support him, including then-Vice President Mike Pence, according to the book.
After the meeting was over, Cohn went back to his office, and Pence appeared several minutes later, without Trump in the vicinity.
“I’m proud of you,” Pence told Cohn at the threshold of his office door, according to the book.
After starting in the administration in January 2017, Cohn left his role in April 2018.
During his tenure, Cohn oversaw the successful passage of Trump’s tax-code overhaul but clashed with the administration regarding tariffs on steel and aluminum.
While Cohn was opposed to the tariffs, Trump went ahead with the new trade barriers anyway.
“It has been an honor to serve my country and enact pro-growth economic policies to benefit the American people, in particular the passage of historic tax reform,” Cohn said in announcing his decision to step down.
Trump praised Cohn for doing “a superb job in driving our agenda” and “helping to deliver historic tax cuts and reforms.”