If anyone expected President Donald Trump to take the high road following the sudden resignation of his chief economic advisor, then they haven’t been paying much attention to this presidency.
Gary Cohn announced late Monday evening that he was leaving his post as the Director of the National Economic Council. The move had been anticipated for days after President Trump announced massive tariffs on foreign steel and aluminum imports last week, something Cohn had vehemently opposed.
The president and his allies are furious at Cohn both for not backing the tariffs – which economists and most Republican lawmakers have also publicly opposed – but also for bringing more negative attention to the administration by leaving.
Today, the president held a scheduled cabinet meeting, which also happens to be Cohn’s last. Trump allowed the White House press pool in for photos, as he often does, and even provided some commentary about the awkward departure.
In the deceptively lighthearted but clearly vindictive tone he’s become infamous for, Trump attacked Cohn while appearing to praise him. In the process, he used one of the most notoriously anti-Semitic aspersions on the man.
“This is Gary Cohn’s last meeting in the cabinet,” he said. “And he’s been terrific. He may be a globalist but I still like him.”
He also added that Cohn’s “gonna go out and make another couple of hundred million, and then he’s maybe going to come back.”
“Globalist” has long been used as code for “Jew,” particularly those that are wealthy and hold positions of power in international business arenas like finance and trade.
The Huffington Post described the term “globalist” as it’s used in the context of this administration and the alt-right philosophy that undergirds much of its policy thinking as:
“a reference to the longstanding conspiracy theory about an international Jewish cabal working to undermine the traditional white family and Western culture by pushing for immigration and diversity.”
Former Chief White House strategist Steve Bannon – widely suspected of holding and espousing anti-Semitic views – helped define and legitimize this “Globalist vs. Nationalist” worldview for a new generation of white supremacists and conspiracy theorists during his time as the editor-in-chief of the alt-right website Breitbart News.
Trump embraced the alt-right early in his campaign, and went full Breitbart when he asked Bannon to take the campaign over following Paul Manafort’s departure.
The influence of men like Bannon on Trump wasn’t enough to keep prominent Jewish figures like Cohn away from answering the call to serve in this administration, but apparently tariffs are the line in the sand he would not cross.
Now that his top economic advisor has one foot out the door in what amounts to a protest resignation, Trump had to be sure to get one last jab to remind Cohn what he really thinks of him.