DONALD Trump’s key economic adviser is leaving the White House following a dispute with the US President over trade.
Gary Cohn has quit the high-level role becoming the latest in a string of high-level departures from the West Wing.
Mr Cohn, the director of the National Economic Council, has been the leading internal opponent to the President’s planned tariffs on imports of steel and aluminium.
He also worked to orchestrate an eleventh-hour effort in recent days to get Mr Trump to reverse course.
Mr Trump resisted those efforts and on Tuesday reiterated he will be imposing tariffs in the coming days.
Mr Cohn’s departure comes amid a period of unparalleled tumult in the Trump administration, and aides worry that more staffers may soon head for the doors.
The announcement came hours after Mr Trump denied there was chaos in the White House and maintained there “tremendous energy.”
(Mr Cohn, joins White House Communications Director Hope Hicks as the latest staffer to leave the West Wing. Picture: Brendan Smialowski/AFP )
However multiple White House officials said Mr Trump has been urging anxious aides to stay. “Everyone wants to work in the White House,” Mr Trump said during a joint press conference with Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven.
“They all want a piece of the Oval Office.”
In a statement, Mr Cohn said it was his honour to serve in the administration and “enact pro-growth economic policies to benefit the American people.”
Mr Trump praised Mr Cohn despite the disagreement on trade, issuing a statement saying he has “served his country with great distinction.”
Mr Cohn is a former Goldman Sachs executive who joined the White House after departing the Wall Street firm with a $285 million payout.
He played a pivotal role in helping Trump enact a sweeping tax overhaul, co-ordinating with members of Congress.
Mr Trump loved to boast about the former executive’s wealth, but Mr Cohn’s tenure in the White House was rocky.
Mr Cohn nearly departed the administration last summer after he was upset by the president’s comments about the racial violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Mr Cohn, who is Jewish, wrote a letter of resignation but never submitted it.
“Citizens standing up for equality and freedom can never be equated with white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and the KKK,” Mr Cohn told The Financial Times at the time.
“I believe this administration can and must do better in consistently and unequivocally condemning these groups and do everything we can to heal the deep divisions that exist in our communities.”
(Mr Cohn and the President disagreed over trade. Picture: Brendan Smialowski/AFP )
The comments came as Mr Cohn was under consideration to serve as chairman of the Federal Reserve.
Earlier in the administration, Mr Cohn found himself on the losing side of several contentious battles, including the announcement of plans to pull the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement.
Mr Cohn had also hoped to steer more than $1 trillion into infrastructure investments, including updates to the US air traffic control system that would make air travel faster and easier.
But the multiple infrastructure rollouts by the Trump administration failed to gain traction, often overshadowed by controversial statements made by the president himself.
Mr Cohn often faced ridicule among some inside the White House for being a registered Democrat who last year met with former Republican officials pushing a form of a carbon tax that was designed to reduce the risks from climate change.
Yet his stock improved to the point that he was one of names Trump was floating for chief of staff last month, when it looked like John Kelly was on thin ice.
Mr Cohn told other White House aides in recent weeks that he would have little reason to stay if Mr Trump followed through with his tariff plans, according to a White House official familiar with his views.
“I mean it is no secret that he disagreed with Trump on trade and he was opposed to the policy,” said Stephen