The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Trump tech adviser Reed Cordish is leaving the White House

Presidential adviser Ivanka Trump and Reed S. Cordish, assistant to President Trump, attend a meeting with CEOs of manufacturing companies at the White House last year. (Michael Reynolds/EPA)

A senior Trump administration adviser on government-to- ­government and technology initiatives is stepping down, the latest of more than a dozen top officials to depart the White House in little more than a year.

Reed S. Cordish is leaving his post as assistant to the president in the Office of American Innovation, where he is being replaced by Brooke L. Rollins, the White House said this week.

Rollins is a former aide to Energy Secretary Rick Perry, from his time as Texas governor. She joins the White House from the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a conservative think tank that advocates for criminal justice reform and free enterprise.

Cordish, 43, a close friend of Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, played a central role in shaping the administration’s infrastructure plan with the aim of passing it this spring.

He said in an interview that he never planned to remain with the administration more than a year and that his role forging infrastructure and workforce policy was complete. He plans to return to his family’s Maryland real estate company.

“We did consensus-building and crafted legislative principles on initiatives like workforce and infrastructure, which are being transmitted to Congress this month,” he said.

Cordish served on President Trump’s transition committee and, although he had no government experience, he oversaw a wide breadth of White House projects involving subjects such as science, technology, engineering and math education and issues within the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The infrastructure plan aims to stimulate $1.5 trillion in spending on roads, bridges, waterways and other public works projects. Critics say the plan does not have a viable funding source and that Trump’s proposed budget would cut more federal infrastructure spending than the plan adds, an assertion budget officials dispute.

Cordish also served as a conduit to private-sector leaders and helped shape memorandums signed by Trump aimed at emphasizing computer science education and expanding apprenticeships. He said during his time in the White House he spoke with more than 300 chief executives from companies of all sizes about their difficulty finding necessary workers in a tight labor market.

“When we first came into office we did not come in with the idea that workforce was going to be a high priority of the administration,” he said. “The workforce initiative really came out of those conversations. What they kept saying is it’s great you’re going to do tax reform, but we can’t find workers with the skills that match available jobs.”

After working with Internet giants such as Facebook and Google, Cordish said tech firms collectively committed in September to providing more than $300 million to computer science education programs.

Cordish said he also helped facilitate an agreement for electronics maker Foxconn to build a planned $10 billion factory in southeastern Wisconsin, where the company will receive $3 billion in state incentives.

Some economists have pilloried the deal as a taxpayer-funded corporate giveaway. Federal and local officials have defended the subsidies as worth the 10,000 jobs Foxconn says it will create.

Kushner issued a statement saying Cordish had been “invaluable” to the administration and praising Rollins.

“Reed and I have been working closely with Brooke Rollins in her role as president and CEO of Texas Public Policy Foundation on Prison Reform, and she is well prepared to continue executing on our key initiatives,” Kushner said.

Rollins will begin near the end of the month, according to the White House.

John Wagner contributed to this report.