In an interview Thursday with the Financial Times, Cohn said the White House “can and must do better” in consistently condemning hate groups. “Because I feel a duty to fulfill my commitment to work on behalf of the American people”, Cohn said.
Karl attempted to follow up, asking Sanders who were “the very fine people on both sides” the president referred to in one of his Charlottesville responses. As a “patriotic American”, Cohn said he did not want to leave his job as director of the National Economic Council.
The president has said on several occasions that he condemns white-supremacist groups and believes all racist sentiment is “evil”, but his own recounting of his words has omitted controversial phrases that aroused the most opposition – that “both sides” were responsible, or, as he said a day after the fatal auto attack, that “many sides” were involved.
Cohn, who is Jewish, said he felt compelled “to voice my distress over the events of the last two weeks”.
On the other hand, Sanders also claimed Trump had been “very outspoken” about condemning racism and anti-Semitism.
Cohn did not specifically mention Trump’s statement, but he criticized the administration’s response as a whole.
In an interview with the Financial Times published Friday, Cohn acknowledged the pressure.
When rumors swirled about Cohn’s imminent departure, the markets, which have been on an ebullient trajectory, took a dive.
The White House had signed off on Cohn’s interview, which was meant to outline the administration’s plans for overhauling the tax code, according to officials.
Cohn, a former top banker at Goldman Sachs, had been part of an internal battle in the White House over the direction of policy, often allying with the president’s daughter and son-in-law, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, to block proposals by Stephen Bannon and others who appealed to Trump’s nationalist instincts.
After all, Cohn’s logic here is lacking: No one is suggesting he resign because of what the Nazis in Charlottesville said.
So it’s easy to see how Cohn might have been persuaded – or persuaded himself – to stay, in the same way the President’s national security team of Mattis, Tillerson and McMaster and chief of staff Kelly seem determined to tolerate Trump’s tantrums in order to prevent more cataclysmic eruptions.
The sources said that Cohn’s circle of friends and family “told him he needed to think seriously about departing” from the White House in the immediate days following Trump’s comments on Charlottesville.
“He pointed to his statement from last week on his “view of the situation”, when he said the he was compelled to let you know that the president in no way, shape or form, believes that neo-Nazi and other hate groups who endorse violence are equivalent to groups that demonstrate in peaceful and lawful ways”.
His comments contrast sharply with those of the secretary of the Treasury, Steven Mnuchin, also jewish and also present at the now famous press conference improvised in the Trump Tower, who had defended the real estate magnate, ensuring that his remarks had been distorted.