MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:
President Trump is losing another key member of his senior White House staff. His top economic adviser, Gary Cohn, is stepping down. His departure comes less than a week after Trump's longest-serving aide, Hope Hicks, announced she's leaving.
NPR White House correspondent Tamara Keith is here now. Hi there. Why is he leaving?
TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: So the official reason that he's leaving is, well, that he's been discussing it for several weeks with the president and others and that it was time.
KEITH: The timing is interesting, however, because late last week President Trump announced that he was going to move forward with tariffs on steel and aluminum. This is something that Gary Cohn has been arguing against. Cohn is a person in this administration who has been described as one of the globalists. And he's often been on the losing side of arguments about things like tariffs or, in another case, the Paris climate accord where he argued that the president shouldn't pull out. And he was - he lost. He lost that.
KELLY: OK. So this isn't a total bolt-out-of-the-blue shock and surprise that I'm seeing written on your face here, Tam.
KEITH: Among White House aides he was one of the most likely to depart sometime after the first of the year. He was on everybody's list. And in part that is because this isn't the first time that he's been rumored to be on his way out. Another time was after the - Charlottesville when there were those KKK protests or marches. And he felt that the president didn't handle that appropriately. But at the time he said he was going to stay on because he wanted to deal with tax reform. Well, the tax legislation passed at the end of last year.
KELLY: So what do we make of this? Gary Cohn out, Hope Hicks out all within a week of each other. What's going on at the White House?
KEITH: And about 20 people before them...
KEITH: ...Let's just be clear. President Trump insists that this is not chaos. This is just the way he likes it. And he was asked about that earlier today. Actually, he was asked, do you have any departures coming? And he gave a preview.
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PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: It's tough. I like conflict. I like having two people with different points of view. And I certainly have that. And then I make a decision. But I like watching it. I like seeing it. And I think it's the best way to go. I like different points of view. But the White House has a tremendous energy, and we have tremendous talent. Yeah, there'll be people - I'm not going to be specific - but there'll be people that change. They always change. Sometimes they want to go out and do something else.
KEITH: And that was literally about an hour and a half before Cohn's departure became official.
KELLY: Wow, the revolving door continues to spin. NPR's Tamara Keith reporting on the latest at the White House. Thanks, Tam.
KEITH: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.