Gary Cohn, the top economic advisor to President Donald Trump, deflected questions Friday about reported simmering tensions between him and Trump.
Cohn was asked during an interview with CNBC whether the president calls him a “globalist,” a derogatory term used by opponents of free trade and more internationally focused economic policy. Cohn only said that the he and the president have a “good relationship.”
“Look, the president and I have a very open and robust discussion on trade, on the economy, on economic growth, on jobs,” Cohn said. “We have a very good relationship and we’re always talking about ways to grow the US economy and put workers back to work and increase wages. That’s his mission and that’s my mission.”
Trump has reportedly asked for tariffs — taxes on imported goods — consistently during meetings of the White House economic team. Most economists and Wall street investors oppose such a policy because it could trigger a trade war and possibly lead the US into a recession.
Cohn was also asked about a report in The Washington Post that said the president was displeased with an interview Cohn gave to the Financial Times, in which he criticised the president’s response to the violence in Charlottesville.
“I have a great relationship with the president, we’re working well together,” Cohn said. “We spent an enormous time together this week working on taxes.”
The “globalist” term for Cohn was reportedly coined by former chief strategist Steve Bannon. It has been a frequent moniker for Cohn in Breitbart, the far-right website that Bannon once again leads.
In addition to the interpersonal questions, Cohn was asked about the pace of tax reform after the president’s kickoff speech in Missouri on Wednesday.
Cohn did not offer significant new details on the plan and said the White House and congressional leaders have developed a “skeleton” for tax reform. But he said it is up to the tax-writing committees — specifically the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance committees — to add the “muscles and skin” to the plan.
In a subsequent interview on Bloomberg TV, Cohn was asked whether he would still be working at the White House in February. Rumours have been swirling that the former Goldman Sachs COO may take over as chairman of the Federal Reserve when current Chair Janet Yellen’s term expires that month.
“I’m going to be right here doing what I am right now,” Cohn said, laughing.
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