One of the many morsels of palace intrigue found in Bob Woodward's explosive book about the Trump administration published earlier this year revealed one of President Donald Trump's curious strategies to reduce the U.S. deficit.
"Just run the presses — print money," Trump told his top economic advisor, Gary Cohn, according to Woodward's account. Cohn, who entered the White House from Goldman Sachs despite being a registered Democrat — and an ardent supporter of free trade — declined.
"You don't get to do it that way," he told the president, according to Woodward. "We have huge deficits and they matter. The government doesn't keep a balance sheet like that."
Trump has said the quotes in the book, "Fear," were made up. He called the book "a con on the public." For his part, Cohn, who resigned earlier this year, has issued what could be called a nondenial denial, saying that the book "does not accurately portray my experience at the White House."
In an interview Thursday on CNBC's "Fast Money Halftime Report," the former administration official again declined to issue an outright denial.
Asked directly by CNBC's Scott Wapner if the president asked him to print money, Cohn demurred.
"Look, the president wants to grow the U.S. economy," Cohn said, after a pause. "The president ran on a platform of growing the U.S. economy, bringing jobs back, and creating wage growth, and you're seeing that. Look at the data now. There are 7 million unfilled jobs in the United States. We are finally starting to see some wage growth in the system."
Wapner asked again, "I get it, but did the president ask you to do that to deal with the deficit?"