AFPWASHINGTON (AFP-Jiji) — With President Donald Trump’s top economic advisor Gary Cohn out the door, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is working to assume the mantle of the White House’s main economic voice of reason.
The former banker and Hollywood producer is intensely loyal to the president and, in his public remarks at least, has always strived to put a softer finish on Trump’s confrontational “America First” economic agenda.
At first, Mnuchin sided with Cohn in opposing Trump’s plans to impose punishing steel and aluminum tariffs. But he soon hewed to the president’s position, under pressure from the administration’s trade hawks: Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and trade adviser Peter Navarro.
Cohn stepped down Tuesday, having lost the bruising battle over the direction of Trump’s trade policy.
As markets roiled in the wake of Trump’s tariff announcements and European leaders spoke of retaliatory trade measures, Mnuchin toured television studios to deliver a message of appeasement.
“The president is not a protectionist,” the Treasury secretary told CNBC on Friday. “This is not a conventional president and because of that we’re getting results we wouldn’t have otherwise seen.”
Mnuchin pointed, for example, to Trump’s intensification of economic sanctions on North Korea, which the administration believes extracted Pyongyang’s proposal for Trump and Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un to meet.