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Former Reagan adviser: Senator 'very close' to Gary Cohn knew he was ready to resign 10 days ago

030718 chaitin art of the gary cohn pic
Art Laffer, who was a member of former President Ronald Reagan's Economic Policy Advisory Board in the 1980s, disputed Wednesday the notion that an adviser needs to be in lockstep with the president's views. (screenshot via Fox News)

Former Reagan economic adviser Art Laffer said on Wednesday that he doesn't believe Gary Cohn is making an exit from the White House because he disagreed with President Trump's push for tariffs.

During an interview on Fox News, Laffer explained that it was Cohn's plan all along to leave the administration early in 2018.

"He has made it clear for a very long time that he was going to leave at the beginning of this year," Laffer said. "And I don't think he would leave just because he disagreed with the president."

He said a senator "very close" to Cohn — who wasn't named — revealed to him that Cohn said "10 days ago that he was going to leave in the next three or four weeks." That would be before Trump's decision on tariffs was made public last week.

Questions about Cohn's readiness to leave the Trump White House have lingered since last year, notably after Cohn expressed frustration with the Trump administration's willingness to condemn white nationalist groups after the deadly clashes that took place in Charlottesville, Va.

Cohn also brushed off speculation in January as there was talk of him leaving after GOP lawmakers and Trump achieved tax reform.

An official reason for Cohn's departure this week has not been given, but the news of Cohn's resignation came Tuesday after Trump announced last Thursday that there would be steep new tariffs on steel and aluminum — a move that Cohn, a free-trade advocate, opposed.

Laffer said the "whole purpose" of being an adviser is to advise, "not to have the president make you say stuff you don't want to say, but have you give independent advice to make the president's decisions better."

Insiders have spread the rumor that conservative economist Larry Kudlow is a top contender to replace Cohn. Laffer said Kudlow would be a "terrific" pick, but one that would not be a "yes man."