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Published: Sat, August 26, 2017
Global Media | By Abel Hampton

Mnuchin: I would never quit over Trump and Charlottesville

Mnuchin: I would never quit over Trump and Charlottesville

President Trump's chief economic adviser, Gary Cohn, expressed his distress over the violent clashes in Charlottesville, Va., and the controversy - much of it caused because of the president's response - that followed, in a candid interview published Friday by the Financial Times.

Those events included the gathering of white supremacists and neo-Nazis in Charlottesville over the weekend of August 11 and 12 and the death of counter-protester Heather Heyer.

Cohn, who is Jewish, said he felt pressured to resign after Trump's confusing response to the violence in Charlottesville, but stayed because he made a "commitment" to the American people. Cohn considered resigning and even drafted a letter of resignation, according to two people familiar with the draft. Trump later condemned the Ku Klux Klan, racists and neo-Nazis amid criticism that he failed to single out the far-rightists immediately afterward, but a day later said there were "very fine people on both sides".

In the days following Trump's statements, there were reports that Cohn was "disgusted" by the president's remarks.

"Starting next week, the president's agenda and calendar is going to revolve around tax reform", he said. "I don't know how long it will take to actually mark up the bill, but I do think it can pass both of the tax committees and both chambers in 2017", Cohn said. "I feel deep empathy for all who have been targeted by these hate groups".

Mnuchin, who is Jewish, released a lengthy statement last week defending his boss after 300 members of his old classmates at Yale University told him he had a "moral obligation" to step down over Trump's reaction to Charlottesville.

There are people who have morally compelling reasons to work for the Trump administration - staffers tasked with avoiding war or some other mass tragedy.

Mr. Cohn's decision to publicly distance himself from the president comes at an awkward time, as Mr. Trump prepares next week to start a major national effort to sell a tax-cut plan, which Mr. Cohn has been toiling for months behind the scenes to craft. He said that Trump would travel next week to give speeches on tax reform.

Beyond that, it would increase the caps for the standard deduction while eliminating most other personal deductions, Cohn said.

"Citizens standing up for equality and freedom can never be equated with white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and the KKK", Cohn said in a clear rebuke of his boss. He said the administration "can and must do better" in condemning such groups. Cohn is a former executive at Goldman Sachs.

The administration wanted to impose a one-time tax on overseas profits to encourage companies to bring money home, he said, but he declined to confirm that it would be the 10 per cent floated by Mr Trump.

But Shawn Sebastian, co-chair of Fed Up, a coalition of labor, community and liberal activist groups that wants the Fed to enact pro-worker policies, said Cohn should resign and back Yellen's renomination.

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