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Gary Cohn says Trump's Charlottesville reaction put 'enormous pressure' on him to resign

  • Cohn told the Financial Times he was "under enormous pressure" to resign following the president's reaction to violent protests in Charlottesville.
  • "I will not allow neo-Nazis ranting 'Jews will not replace us' to cause this Jew to leave his job," Cohn tells the newspaper.
  • "Citizens standing up for equality and freedom can never be equated with white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and the KKK," Cohn says.

Top White House economic advisor Gary Cohn says he seriously considered resigning after President Donald Trump's reaction to the violent protests in Charlottesville, Virginia.

"I have come under enormous pressure both to resign and to remain in my current position," Cohn said during an interview with the Financial Times about economic policy.

"As a Jewish-American, I will not allow neo-Nazis ranting 'Jews will not replace us' to cause this Jew to leave his job. I feel deep empathy for all who have been targeted by these hate groups. We must all unite together against them," Cohn said.

The former president of Goldman Sachs has said that the administration "must do better" when condemning neo-Nazis and white supremacists. Initially following the protests the president blamed "both sides" for causing protests to become deadly. Trump also said there were some "very fine people" among the white supremacist protesters.

Cohn met with Trump privately last Friday and even drafted a resignation letter, The New York Times reported.

Cohn leads the White House national economic council and is jointly guiding Trump's effort to enact tax reform with Treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin.

"Citizens standing up for equality and freedom can never be equated with white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and the KKK," Cohn said in the interview.

Trump himself has also signaled that Cohn is a top contender to become the next Federal Reserve chairman should Janet Yellen be replaced. Leaving the White House would squelch virtually any chance Cohn would have at attaining the Fed position.

Cohn told the FT he is "reluctant" to leave the administration because he feels a duty to the American people.

It's unclear how Trump will respond to these comments from Cohn. "A source close to Trump predicts he will explode when he reads the Cohn interview," Axios reported after the FT interview was posted.

Read more from the Financial Times here.

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