“Everybody wants to work in the White House,” according to U.S. President Donald Trump.
But there are apparently exceptions. A lot of exceptions.
Just a few hours after the president made that audacious claim, his top economic advisor Gary Cohn quit, becoming the latest in a very long list of administration officials to either resign or be pushed out.
WATCH ABOVE: Trump economic adviser Gary Cohn resigns
By one analysis, the Trump White House has seen an astonishing 43 per cent turnover rate. That’s vastly higher than the five most recent presidents, and is in stark contrast to Trump’s Tuesday claim that everyone wants “a piece of the Oval Office, they all want a piece of the West Wing.”
The tone was set on day 24 of the administration, when Michael Flynn resigned under pressure, becoming the shortest serving National Security Advisor in history.
Flash forward to the present, and the staggering list of people who’ve departed includes the White House chief of staff, two deputy chiefs of staff, the FBI director, the deputy FBI director, a succession of three White House communications directors, the press secretary, two U.S. ambassadors, the head of the Centers for Disease Control, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, five staff from the vice president’s office and the deputy director of the National Security Agency, to name a few.
There’s speculation that the current National Security Advisor, the Chief of Staff and the president’s son-in-law-turned-advisor might not be around much longer either.
Of course, Trump’s former claim to fame was hosting a reality TV show where people left every week.
But this is this is the White House, and the stakes are actually real. This is not just a story of palace intrigue, it’s a consequential problem for the Trump White House that raises questions about the stability and effectiveness of the administration.
Gary Cohn’s departure is the embodiment of those concerns.
On the sensitive issue of trade, Cohn was known for his opposition to new tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. The Globe and Mail reports that every major Canadian player involved in the renegotiation of NAFTA had been in touch with Cohn.
On Wall Street, the former Goldman Sachs CEO was viewed as a stabilizing force in an outsider administration. The markets reacted to his departure by dropping sharply.
The president’s insistence that “there is no chaos, only great energy!” ignores the fact that U.S. allies like Canada no longer know what to expect from the White House.
At the same time, the president can no longer claim that his signature management style is effective, if it even exists.
“I like conflict. I like having two people with different points of view, and I certainly have that. And then I make a decision,” explained the president on Tuesday.
The problem is, when it comes to trade, he’s now only hearing one side of the argument. Cohn’s exit leaves the president surrounded only by those pushing economic nationalism through tariffs, and it’s not clear he will be replaced by someone who’s like-minded.
But that’s not the only issue.
Cohn’s departure also shows just how many people still in the building are eyeing the White House exits.
Axios reports that Cohn had actually planned to announce his departure last week, until White House Communications Director Hope Hicks beat him to the punch with her own resignation.
Wary of appearing to pile on, Cohn decided to hold off on his own announcement for a few more days.
Maybe the reality is, everyone wants to leave the White House.