The White House said on Friday that President Donald Trump and his aides were not surprised by economic adviser Gary Cohn’s sharply critical comments about the president’s response to the Charlottesville violence.
“I don’t think anyone was surprised by the comments,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said about whether Trump knew about Cohn’s comments to the Financial Times that were published early Friday morning. “The president, as I said, and Gary have spoken many times — Gary has not held back what his feelings are.”
Cohn told the Financial Times that “this administration can and must do better in consistently and unequivocally condemning these groups and do everything we can to heal the deep divisions that exist in our communities.”
Cohn also said that “citizens standing up for equality and freedom can never be equated with white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and the KKK,” an apparent knock at Trump’s claim that “both sides” were to blame for the violent clashes between the hate groups and counter-protesters.
Cohn said in the interview that he had “come under enormous pressure both to resign and to remain in my current position.”
On Friday, Sanders said Cohn was “very honest and open” throughout the situation, but she also emphasized that the majority of the interview focused on tax reform.
“Ninety-five percent of that interview was on tax reform — we’re looking at a really small portion of it,” Sanders said. “Everyone wants to focus on a really small part of that interview.”