Gary Cohn to Recuse Himself From Goldman Sachs Matters

  • Trump’s ethics order requires such a recusal for two years
  • Cohn is chair of National Economic Council in White House

Gary Cohn Fills Treasury Leadership Gap

Gary Cohn, the former No. 2 at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and President Donald Trump’s top economic adviser, will remove himself from official matters involving his former employer.

Cohn “will recuse himself from participating in any matter directly involving his former employer,” said a White House official on condition of anonymity. The policy is consistent with ethics rules established by Trump, said the official, who noted that the recusal includes any matter or potential rulemaking before the Commodity Futures Trading Commission in which Goldman Sachs has participated.

The statement was first reported by the Financial Times and then confirmed by Bloomberg News.

Under the ethics rules that Trump issued for his appointees on Jan. 28, Cohn is required to recuse himself from any particular matters involving his former firm for two years, including regulatory actions. Cohn’s financial disclosure and ethics agreement have yet to be publicly released.

Democratic senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin had urged Cohn to go further, calling on him in a letter released Feb. 3 to stay out of decisions that would have an "indirect" impact on Goldman Sachs.

As chair of the National Economic Council, Cohn has become the public face of Trump’s plans to roll back parts of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, put in place to prevent another financial crisis. Cohn appeared on television earlier this month explaining two directives that Trump signed that are aimed at starting the process of repealing the restrictions.

Goldman Sachs would likely benefit from loosening those rules.

Trump’s orders on financial services regulation elicited a Feb. 9 letter from Warren and Baldwin to Goldman Sachs asking for any information about contacts between Cohn and his old firm, or the investment bank’s involvement in writing the policies.

In a letter dated Feb. 22, Goldman Sachs General Counsel Gregory Palm said the Wall Street firm “had no involvement in drafting any executive orders, nor did we receive any advance notice of their issuance.” He added that the firm is aware of guidelines for interacting with government officials, and “we have no reason to believe that individuals from Goldman Sachs breached them.”

Goldman Sachs had no immediate comment on Cohn’s recusal.

— With assistance by Bill Allison, and Justin Sink

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