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CNBC's John Harwood sat down with National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn to discuss a range of topics, including his professional plans for after tax reform gets passed. What follows is a condensed, edited transcript of their conversation.
Harwood: After the events of this summer, many of your friends, peers in the business world decided, 'I don't want to, for my reputation, my company's reputation, be associated with this White House.' They disbanded these economic councils. There was a lot of speculation that you were going to leave. Why didn't you?
Cohn: Look, I am in an amazing position. The president has given me unbelievable task, unbelievable responsibility to help him drive his economic agenda. I believe in his economic agenda. I believe in what he's doing on deregulation. I believe what he's doing on taxes, and I believe what he's doing on infrastructure. When I look at myself, I have been — really a lucky American to end up where I am. I owe it to the country to work for the citizens of the country, work for the president, and try and help him drive his economic agenda.
Harwood: You're not worried that your reputation will suffer by association with the administration?
Cohn: I'm not. And when we get tax reform done and the economy grows, I'm really not worried.
Harwood: You did speak out though. Do you think the fact that you spoke out is the reason that you were not in the Rose Garden the other day being announced as Fed chair?
Cohn: Look, I think the president picked the exact right person to be the Fed chair.
Harwood: But do you think that's why?
Cohn: I'm very supportive of Jay [Powell]. I think Jay is a great selection, and he's the perfect choice to be Fed chair.
Harwood: Once tax reform is done, are you going to leave the White House?
Harwood: There's been a lot of speculation.
Cohn: Nope. I know. There's speculation on anything.
Harwood: Is it your plan to stay through the entire first term?
Cohn: It's my plan to stay and work as long as I can help the president drive his economic agenda. You know, a year ago today, I wasn't thinking I'd be here. So, for me to tell you where I'm going to be four years from now, I have no idea.
Read more from the Gary Cohn Speakeasy interview:
... on keeping companies in America.
... on Goldman Sachs and the White House.
... on repealing the estate tax.
... on the value of trickle-down economics.