WASHINGTON — Gary Cohn, a key economic adviser to President Donald Trump, said that the administration “can and must do better” on condemning hate groups in light of the unrest in Charlottesville earlier this month.
In an interview with the Financial Times, Cohn also said that he rejected calls to resign as director of the National Economic Council “because I feel a duty to fulfill my commitment to work on behalf of the American people. But I also feel compelled to voice my distress over the events of the last two weeks.”
“As a Jewish American, I will not allow neo-Nazis ranting ‘Jews will not replace us’ to cause this Jew to leave his job,” Cohn said. “I feel deep empathy for all who have been targeted by these hate groups. We must all unite together against them.”
Trump was criticized for remarks that equated the actions of the white supremacists with those of counter-protesters. But Cohn said in the interview that “citizens standing up for equality and freedom can never be equated with white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and the KKK. 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.”
Cohn also said that he has talked to Trump about the issue, and “I have not been bashful saying what I think.”
Cohn, the former COO of Goldman Sachs, is a key figure in the push for tax reform, and rumors last week that he was going to resign briefly sent the stock market tumbling.
Tax reform is a major priority for corporate America headed into the fall, including movie studios and major media companies who have long pressed for a drop in the corporate tax rate. There is speculation that Cohn will depart the White House once tax reform is completed, which he predicts by the end of the year.
In the interview, Cohn said that they also envision tax reform including one low rate on overseas profits, as a way of getting companies to “repatriate” their returns back to the United States. He said that Trump would travel next week to give speeches on tax reform.