According to veteran journalist Bob Woodward’s explosive new book, “Fear: Trump in the White House,” Gary Cohn rejected President-elect Donald Trump’s suggestions that he become Secretary of Energy or Director of the Office of Management and Budget during a transition meeting at Trump Tower.
So Trump suggested another job.
“You know what?” Trump said. “I hired the wrong guy for Treasury secretary. You should be Treasury secretary. You would be the best Treasury secretary.”
There were a couple problems with Trump’s suggestion: The president-elect had already tapped Steven Mnuchin to be treasury secretary.
Also, Mnuchin was in the room.
Business Insider obtained a copy of the book, which is being published by Simon & Schuster and is set for release on Tuesday. Woodward wrote that Mnuchin did not say anything or react to Trump’s suggestion. But a few minutes after the meeting, news of Mnuchin’s selection leaked to the media.
Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law who was still with Cohn in Trump Tower, suggested Mnuchin leaked the news to head off any switch by Trump.
“That’s crazy,” Kushner said, according to Woodward. “Mnuchin just put that out. You freaked him out so badly in the meeting.”
Cohn eventually became the director of the National Economic Council, a top economic adviser to the president. Mnuchin is still serving as Treasury secretary, and he has emerged as a key ally in Trump’s Cabinet. Cohn departed the White House in March amid disagreements with Trump on trade policy.
Woodward’s book details the supposed chaos and dysfunction in the White House, much of which he portrays as being caused by Trump. Another story about Cohn details the then-economic adviser stealing documents off the president’s desk to prevent Trump from pulling the US out of major trade deals.
The White House has attacked the contents of “Fear,” calling Woodward’s book “nothing more than fabricated stories.”
The Treasury Department referred requests for comment to the White House. A spokesperson for the White House did not respond to a request for comment.