Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Columnist

[Gary Cohn reportedly drafted a letter of resignation after the president’s Charlottesville remarks but failed to hand it in. He has now announced his resignation, which means that the letter must have gone in. But the text must have had some changes.]

Dear Mr. President,

I must tender my resignation at once after hearing your absurd, mealy-mouthed remark that there was blame “on both sides,” after the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville at which a protester was killed  you did not agree to meet with the people from the companies that use steel and aluminum, as I arranged, to learn why your tariffs were bad.

This administration can and must do better in consistently and unequivocally condemning these groups. Tariffs are a bad idea!

Citizens standing up for equality and freedom can never be equated with white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and the KKK.  The Dow is down.

I feel deep empathy for all who have been targeted by these  hate groups. tariffs. We must all unite together against them. I cannot in good conscience sit here and watch people be harmed wealth be diminished in pursuit of an unsound trade policy.

Shame on this administration for its equivocation on this point. I can no longer in good conscience work for someone who would describe a crowd of neo-Nazis chanting “Jews will not replace us” as “fine people.” Anyway, we got the tax plan through, somehow, and I am going now.

I had a litmus test for myself. Can I look myself in the mirror every morning when I work for this administration, and feel that the ugliness I tacitly support is worth the amount of good I can do? This morning Months ago, after Charlottesville when we were still working on the tax plan, I looked in the mirror one morning and realized: I no longer can. That was when I decided: I must resign now stop looking in the mirror.

Before, I thought: Is there someone who will thank me for staying? Who will be grateful for the crises I averted? The answer used to be “Goldman Sachs.” Now I’m not sure who it is.

I am quitting to stand in solidarity with all others who stand against persecution and hate. sit on a yacht and try not to remember any of this.

As a patriotic American, I am reluctant to leave my post … because I feel a duty to fulfill my commitment to work on behalf of the American people. But I also feel compelled to voice my distress over the events of the last two weeks.  Everyone left in the administration is now willing to put up with corruption, incompetence, equivocation about whether Nazis are bad, a constant stream of racism AND bad ideas about how to make the economy go! Or they are literally related to you. Either way, I’m out.

We all have our lines, and my line was human dignity tariffs. Just tariffs.

Sincerely,

Gary