President Trump and Gary Cohn have hinted that the departing top economic adviser may return to the White House in another role.
“He may be a globalist but I still like him,” the president said at Cohn’s last cabinet meeting Thursday.
“He’s going to go out and make another couple a hundred million and then he’s going to maybe come back. He might come back, right?” Trump asked, turning to Cohn, who sat behind him.
“Absolutely,” Cohn replied.
“I have a feeling you’ll be back,” Trump said.
Cohn, the former Goldman Sachs president who has been thought of as the most prominent free-trade advocate in the White House, resigned after butting heads with Trump’s advisers over plans to levy stiff tariffs on imported steel and aluminum.
“He’s not quite as strong on those tariffs as we want,” Trump told the room. “He is seriously a globalist, there’s no question. But in his own way, he is a nationalist because he loves our country.”
Trump has lately suggested that trade wars might not be a bad thing, a notion that has caused critics to fear he might jeopardize the North American Free Trade Agreement. The European Union has already threatened to retaliate with tariffs on American products as well.
“When we’re down by $30 billion, $40 billion, $60 billion, $100 billion, the trade war hurts them, it doesn’t hurt us,” Trump said on Tuesday.
Cohn reportedly warned Trump that prices of steel and aluminum products would spike as a result of the tariffs. In an effort to influence the commander in chief against the new tariffs, he organized a meeting last Thursday with companies that utilize steel and aluminum, but the president canceled it.
Dow futures plummeted 300 points at the news of Cohn’s departure, in part because the economic advisor was instrumental in the conception and passage of the Republican tax-reform bill, the Trump administration’s only major legislative victory so far.