WASHINGTON -- Gary Cohn's departure from the White House is a victory for the protectionists who have sought to push President Donald Trump to fully embrace their views.
The former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. president said Tuesday he would resign after what had become a bitter and personal dispute within the White House over Trump's plan to slap steep tariffs on imported steel and aluminum -- a stance widely decried by the automotive industry.
His departure is a victory for figures who have sought to expunge the Trump administration of advocates for free trade and globalization, principles that have long been a hallmark of the Washington establishment.
A registered Democrat, Cohn was regarded as one of the few political moderates close to the president. His absence will amplify voices like Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and trade adviser Peter Navarro who back the president's impulses to buck convention and pick trade fights on a global stage.
Cohn also served as a counterbalance to figures such as Senior Adviser Stephen Miller and Chief of Staff John Kelly, who have pushed Trump to the right on immigration -- and worked to keep him there -- and have encouraged the president's forays into the culture wars.
Investors, spooked by Cohn's exit, were seen bracing for the impact Wednesday as U.S. equity futures slumped. The prospect of escalating protectionism earlier depressed stock markets in Asia, and the Stoxx Europe 600 Index headed for the first drop in three days, led by mining and auto shares.
Officials familiar with Cohn's departure said his resignation was the culmination of his aggressive campaign to persuade Trump to abandon his proposed steel and aluminum tariffs, even after the president made his snap announcement last Thursday.