- Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters
Gary Cohn, the director of the National Economic Council and former president of Goldman Sachs, is enjoying his new role as an increasingly influential adviser to President Donald Trump, but he says Washington is a “s—show,” according to a Thursday Washington Post report.
The White House has been consumed by increasingly visible drama between warring camps led by Trump’s more moderate son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and Trump’s chief strategist, Steve Bannon, an anti-Wall Street economic nationalist.
Cohn is reportedly working to cut through Washington drama and politics to enact his agenda of reforming the tax code, crafting an infrastructure plan, cutting financial regulations, and renegotiating international trade agreements.
He has hired about two dozen policy experts to help him develop these plans, according to The Post.
“Cohn might be a newbie to policy and Washington, but you have to give him credit for one thing,” Gene Sperling, the director of the NEC under President Barack Obama, told The Post. “While others seemed engaged in ideological and ‘House of Cards’-like staff warfare, he quietly and quickly focused on the first rule of governing: He hired some competent, professional staff at the NEC, and it has paid off for him.”
Cohn, who received a $285 million payout when he left Goldman to advise Trump on domestic and global economic policy in January, may have moved to Washington, but he’s maintaining his ties to Wall Street. He recently had drinks at the Four Seasons with Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein, according to The Post.
Kushner, Cohn, and Dina Powell, a former Goldman colleague, appear to be behind Trump’s recent shifts toward a more moderate economic agenda.
Over the past week, Trump has retracted his criticism of Federal Reserve Board Chair Janet Yellen; said he would not, as he had promised, label China a currency manipulator; and announced his support for government subsidies for exports.
Much like Ivanka Trump, who told the Republican National Convention in July that she voted based on policy, not party, Cohn frequently tells business executives that he is neither a Republican nor a Democrat, but just wants to “get things done,” according to The Post.