Politics

Trump Puts Goldman Sachs President In Top Economic Role

| by Robert Fowler

Despite railing against the bank and its influence in politics on the campaign trail, President-elect Donald Trump has appointed Goldman Sachs President and COO Gary Cohn to head the National Economic Council. In addition serving as Trump's chief economic adviser and strategist, Cohn has reportedly been enjoying increasing influence in the forming administration.

On Dec. 9, President-elect Trump offered Cohn the role of NEC director, a highly influential position that offers the commander-in-chief economic guidance while working to implement his economic agenda, according to Common Dreams.

Cohn is not the only Goldman Sachs veteran tapped to play a crucial role in the incoming Trump administration: both treasury secretary nominee Steven Mnuchin and White House chief strategist Steve Bannon worked as executives at the influential bank.

The selection of Cohn was met with derision by liberal lawmakers, with prominent senators taking to social media to blast Trump's choice of NEC director as a hypocritical betrayal of his populist campaign rhetoric.

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"Fox, meet henhouse," tweeted Democratic Sen. Barbara Lee of California in response to Cohn's appointment.

"It's called a rigged economy and this is how it works," tweeted Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

Cohn, 56, joined Goldman Sachs in 1990. Overcoming his dyslexia to graduate from college, he landed his first Wall Street job after convincing an executive of a brokerage firm to share a taxicab ride with him.

"I lied to him all the way to the airport," Cohn recalled in his biography, according to Yahoo Finance. "When he said, 'Do you know what an option is?' I said, 'Of course I do, I know everything. I can do anything for you.' Basically by the time we got out of the taxi, I had his number."

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Within the space of a week after the meeting, Cohn interviewed and landed a job while teaching himself how to actually perform options trading by reading a book he described as "the Bible of options trading."

On Dec. 12, Cohn officially accepted the role of NEC director, departing from Goldman Sachs to work on the Trump transition team.

Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein issued a statement wishing Cohn success in the White House.

"We will miss Gary at Goldman Sachs, but I believe the American people and the President-elect are fortunate that he has chosen to serve his country," Blankfein said.

Since accepting the job, Cohn's influence in the incoming Trump administration has rapidly grown, with the former Goldman COO given the privilege of entering the president-elect's office at any time and even interrupting meetings. The incoming NEC director has been reportedly tapped to develop strategies to repeal the Affordable Care Act and implement infrastructure spending and tax reform policies, according to New York magazine.

According to sources within the Trump transition team, the more conservative members of the president-elect's inner circle are distrustful of Cohn, doubting his political allegiances.

"He's a huge Democrat and knows zero about politics," a source close to Bannon said. Reportedly, Bannon has made it a priority to isolate Cohn's growing influence over the president-elect.

Sources: Common Dreams, New YorkYahoo Finance via Yahoo Sports / Photo credit: Paul Elledge Photography/Wikimedia Commons

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