Trump reportedly had talks with Gary Cohn to replace John Kelly as his chief of staff

Gary Cohn, director of the National Economic Council and President Donald Trump's top economic adviser.

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Gary Cohn, director of the National Economic Council and President Donald Trump’s top economic adviser.
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REUTERS/Ruben Sprich

  • Gary Cohn, the director of the National Economic Council and President Donald Trump’s top economic adviser, reportedly had talks with Trump about replacing White House chief of staff John Kelly.
  • News of the discussions came amid Cohn’s resignation announcement on Tuesday.
  • Trump reportedly never formally offered Cohn the position, but held the discussions to see whether he was interested.

Gary Cohn, the director of the National Economic Council and President Donald Trump’s top economic adviser, reportedly had talks with Trump about replacing White House chief of staff John Kelly, according to a New York Times report on Tuesday.

Trump never formally offered Cohn the position, according to The Times, but he held discussions to see whether Cohn was interested.

The talks were held in recent weeks, which coincided with heavy scrutiny over Kelly’s response to a domestic abuse scandal involving former staff secretary Rob Porter. Kelly was reported to have expressed a willingness to resign after the firestorm of criticism.

Kelly was also under fire from Trump’s senior advisers, son-in-law Jared Kushner and first daughter Ivanka Trump. Kushner and Ivanka were portrayed as locked in a power struggle with Kelly, who has also grown frustrated with them during his efforts to establish and maintain order in the West Wing.

News of Trump’s discussions with Cohn came amid The Times’s report that Cohn planned to resign in the coming weeks.

Cohn faced an uphill battle with Trump over his plans to enact tariffs on imports of steel aluminum. Cohn had argued that the tariffs would damage the US economy, but despite his objections, Trump ended up imposing them.

“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 a statement. “I am grateful to the President for giving me this opportunity and wish him and the Administration great success in the future.”