Why Gary Cohn Ended Up Joining Donald Trump’s Inner Circle

On Democrat and former Goldman Sachs exec's journey to the White House.

June 26, 2017 11:47 am
How Gary Cohn Joined Donald Trump's Inner Circle
Director of the National Economic Council Gary Cohn (left) and Senior Advisor Jared Kushner (right) listen to U.S. President Donald Trump deliver opening remarks during a meeting with business leaders in the Roosevelt Room at the White House January 23, 2017 in Washington, D.C. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

What do Gary Cohn, Steve Mnuchin, Dina Powell, and Steve Bannon have in common? They’re all graduates of the ranks of Goldman Sachs and currently hold seats at the table of President Donald Trump’s inner circle.

But Goldman Sachs and Trump make for an unlikely pairing. According to Vanity Fair, “Trump was the poster child of the kind of client that Goldman, which has always prided itself on superb risk management, warned its bankers to avoid.”

And no one is more of a surprise addition to the White House than former COO Cohn, whose support for the Democratic party is well documented. Trump even spoke out against the finance company during his campaign—and targeted opponents like Ted Cruz and Hillary Clinton for their affiliations to it.

So why would Cohn, clearly a Democrat, want in on Trump’s White House?

As Vanity Fair notes, one perspective is that Cohen was tired of being No. 2 at Goldman and wanted to solidify a graceful exit. What better a spot than director of the National Economic Council?

But then there’s another, less-talked-about perspective. In 2015, when Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein announced that he had cancer, Cohn, in filling in for his boss, “became overconfident and decided to inquire of several of his fellow board members about becoming CEO, even as Blankfein was responding well to his chemotherapy treatments.” The board balked—and in swooped Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law.

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