Ex-White House aide Cohn pushes back at Woodward book on Trump

  • It's been a week since excerpts from the book first emerged portraying Cohn as one of the central characters in some dramatic scenes involving documents being removed from the president's desk.
  • "This book does not accurately portray my experience at the White House," Axios reported Cohn saying.
  • Tariffs on steel and aluminum were reportedly the reason Cohn decided to quit his White House perch after just a year or so on the job.
White House chief economic adviser Gary Cohn.
Jabin Botsford | The Washington Post | Getty Images
White House chief economic adviser Gary Cohn.

Former top White House economic advisor Gary Cohn is pushing back slightly at an explosive new book about the Trump administration by journalist Bob Woodward.

It's been a week since excerpts from the book first emerged portraying Cohn as one of the central characters in some dramatic scenes. Woodward describes Cohn sneaking into the Oval Office and removing a one-page letter from the president's desk addressed to the South Korean president. He then quotes Cohn telling an associate he didn't want the president to see it. "He's never going to see that document. Got to protect the country."

The news site Axios reported on Tuesday that Cohn is questioning the book as it portrays him.

"This book does not accurately portray my experience at the White House," Cohn told Axios in a statement. "I am proud of my service in the Trump Administration, and I continue to support the President and his economic agenda."

Part of President Donald Trump's trade agenda involves trade skirmishes with other countries, and tariffs on steel, aluminum and other products imported from a number of key U.S. trading partners. Tariffs on steel and aluminum were reportedly the reason Cohn decided to quit his White House perch after just a year or so on the job. Before leaving, he did help push through the president's tax cut.

Cohn was president of Goldman Sachs before his White House gig. Woodward's book describes him as trying to salvage trade deals between the U.S. and Korea and the U.S. and Canada and Mexico by swiping documents from Trump's desk that would have withdrawn or proposed to withdraw the U.S. from long-standing agreements.

Axios also reported Tuesday that former White House staff secretary Rob Porter, who is portrayed in the book as having discussed the documents with Cohn, is also responding, telling the site that the book is "selective and often misleading."

Woodward told Axios he stands by his reporting.