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Trump Gary Cohn reveals biggest difference White House Goldman Sachs



Ask Gary Cohn the difference between working for President Donald Trump and Goldman Sachs.

“Everything,” Cohn, a former White House economic advisor and Goldman executive, said on Wednesday at the Context Summits conference in Miami.

Cohn pinpointed two items that separated his two most recent employers: agenda and familiarity.

At Goldman, the instructions were clear and simple, said Cohn, who left the White House in March of last year over a disagreement on tariff policy.

“You serve clients and make money,” Cohn said.

Read more: The David Solomon era at Goldman Sachs kicked off with 43 words Lloyd Blankfein would never say

In the White House, however, the agenda was set before Trump’s team even got into their offices by former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, Cohn said.

“Had we been left to our own agenda, we would not have done Obamacare first,” he said.

The lack of familiarity between White House officials also cut into the team’s productivity, Cohn said, adding that at Goldman, there’s “very, very, very few political games played.”

“You’re thrown into this and said ‘work together,'” he said. Compared to Goldman — where Cohn said he has worked with colleagues for decades before reaching senior leadership — the White House staff had to learn everyone’s strengths and motives immediately. Though, he said, “you can figure out the good communicators pretty quickly and the bad communicators pretty quickly.”

Read more: Goldman Sachs’ 1MDB problems are eating into employee morale, and insiders worry the firm will use its legal woes as an excuse to scrimp on bonuses

Cohn expressed frustration with some of the moves made by “nationalists” in the White House, specifically naming trade hawk Peter Navarro and his axing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership on the first day of Trump’s presidency.

Calling Navarro an “Amazon economist,” Cohn said that his team killed “a vast majority” of the protectionist executive orders Navarro tried to push Trump to sign early on.

“I will never fully understand why we got rid of the TPP,” he said.

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