Top economic adviser Gary Cohn leaves White House in wake of tariff rift

(CNN)–President Donald Trump’s top economic adviser Gary Cohn is resigning, the White House announced on Tuesday.

Cohn, who had been rumored just weeks ago as a potential next chief of staff, will leave the White House in the wake of his fierce disagreement with the President’s decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. Cohn is expected to leave in the coming weeks, the White House said.

“Gary has been my chief economic adviser and did a superb job in driving our agenda, helping to deliver historic tax cuts and reforms and unleashing the American economy once again. He is a rare talent, and I thank him for his dedicated service to the American people,” Trump said in a statement.

Trump addressed the news on Twitter Tuesday evening and said a decision would come soon.

“Will be making a decision soon on the appointment of new Chief Economic Advisor. Many people wanting the job – will choose wisely!” Trump tweeted.

Cohn’s resignation sounded alarm bells in establishment circles in Washington and on Wall Street, where many viewed the former Goldman Sachs executive as a steadying influence on economic policy inside the Trump White House. His departure, combined with Trump’s recent moves to recommit himself to his nationalist trade agenda, raised questions about the direction of the Trump administration and sent Dow futures plummeting 300 points.

“Wall Street won’t be happy,” said a senior Republican who has worked both at the White House and in finance. “We knew he was hanging in by a thread, but it is terrible news.”

The latest shake-up also amplified the chaos that has consumed the White House in recent weeks, with Cohn becoming just the latest in a series of high-profile resignations. It was not immediately clear who would succeed him as director of the White House’s National Economic Council.

Trump is likely to consider Larry Kudlow, a longtime informal adviser of the his, one source close to both men said. Some Trump allies are planning to encourage the President to tap Kudlow and it wouldn’t be the first time that his name has been raised.

Amid rumors of Cohn’s potential resignation in recent months, allies have floated Kudlow’s name in conversations with the President and Trump has been receptive to the notion.

“Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten about Larry,” Trump told one ally earlier this year amid speculation Cohn might resign.

But tapping Kudlow would once again put the President at odds with his National Economic Council director, as Kudlow is an avid free-trader and has urged the President in recent days not to follow through on the steel and aluminum tariffs.

The New York Times first reported the news of Cohn’s departure.

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