Trump Turns on Yet Another Ally

We’ll never know for sure, but I have always assumed that Gary Cohn took the job as Trump’s top economic advisor in hopes of becoming the next Federal Reserve Chair. During the first few months of this administration, he seemed to be on track for that appointment and was often discussed as one of the few people that the president actually listened to and respected. According to a report in the Wall Street Journal this week, his prospects for getting that job just went down the tubes.

President Donald Trump is unlikely to nominate Gary Cohn, his top economic adviser, as the next Federal Reserve chairman, according to people familiar with the president’s thinking, adding to the uncertainty over the U.S. central bank’s leadership and policies next year.

Mr. Trump told The Wall Street Journal in July that he was considering Mr. Cohn as a potential successor to Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen, whose term as central bank chief expires in early February…

The shift in Mr. Cohn’s prospects for the top Fed job arises largely from his criticism of Mr. Trump’s response to the violence in Charlottesville, Va., the people familiar with the matter said.

Of course the WSJ is primarily interested in what that means for potential leadership of the Federal Reserve. That is an important story to follow over the next few months. But the reason why Trump decided to eliminate Cohn from consideration is also important. Here’s what he said following the president’s remarks about Charlottesville:

“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 said in an interview with the Financial Times.

In other words, Cohn wasn’t prepared to defend the president’s racist remarks. So he is being punished.

This is once again a reminder of what I wrote previously about how Trump turns on his allies the minute they challenge his dominance and fail to show the proper amount of loyalty. It is a pattern. And it keeps happening over and over again.

Given this development, it might be a good time to revisit how the various power centers in this White House are faring. Here’s how they stood in the beginning:

1. The White Nationalists – Bannon, Sessions, Miller, Gorka, Navarro
2. The Evangelicals – Pence, Price, Pruitt, DeVos and Short
3. The Generals – Mattis, Kelly, MacMaster
4. The Friends and Family – Ivanka, Kushner, Cohen
5. The RNCers – Priebus, Spicer, Walsh
6. The Wall Streeters – Mnuchin, Cohn
7. The Bureaucrats – 1.8 million workers at federal agencies
8. The Lone Wolfs – Conway, McGahn, Tillerson

The White Nationalists have lost a couple of their key players, but Sessions and Miller are still doing their thing, as we’ve seen recently. The Evangelicals as also doing their thing—although somewhat more quietly and out of the spotlight. The Generals have upped their game with Kelly now the Chief of Staff trying to impose some military discipline. The Friends and Family are also still there, mostly pretending to make excuses for what the president is doing. The RNCers are out. The Wall Streeters took a blow with Cohn’s remarks about Charlottesville and Mnuchin being shut down in the deal-making at the White House yesterday. The Bureaucrats have been decimated and the Lone Wolfs continue to be fairly irrelevant.

To summarize, the White Nationalists and Evangelicals continue to maintain influence, with the Generals pretty much in charge. That should give you a pretty good idea of what this White House will and won’t be doing until another group becomes the focus of Trump’s ire.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.