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Goldman’s Cohn said to be top choice for NEC director

Goldman Sachs COO Gary Cohn, right, is escorted by Madeline Westerhout to a meeting with President-elect Donald Trump at Trump Tower Nov. 29 in New York. (Evan Vucci / Associated Press)
By Dakin Campbell and Saleha Mohsin Bloomberg

Goldman Sachs’ Gary Cohn, once the heir apparent to Chief Executive Officer Lloyd Blankfein, is the top candidate to become President-elect Donald Trump’s chief economic policy adviser, people familiar with the decision said.

Cohn, who spent more than 25 years at the investment bank, is being considered by Trump to head the National Economic Council, among the most influential panels inside the White House, helping to coordinate and develop the president’s economic program. The move would strengthen the Wall Street firm’s influence in Washington while clearing the way for its next generation of leaders.

Cohn didn’t immediately respond to phone and email messages seeking comment. Jake Siewert, a Goldman Sachs spokesman, declined to comment.

Cohn, 56, would be the third and most senior Goldman Sachs alumnus to take a prominent role in the incoming administration, despite the president-elect’s fierce criticism of Wall Street and the bank in particular on the campaign trail.

Cohn became Goldman Sachs’s co-president in 2006, and later sole president, holding an office that in recent decades has been used to groom the next CEO. Both Blankfein and his predecessor, Henry Paulson, served as presidents of the company before ascending to the top spot. But after 10 years there, Blankfein has signaled no intention of stepping down, leaving Cohn to explore other opportunities.

The NEC was set up as a counterpart to the president’s National Security Council. The group of economic advisers overseen by a director is expected to represent the president’s interests and serve as an honest broker among competing agencies and departments. Some directors have spearheaded top presidential initiatives.

Past directors include two former Goldman Sachs leaders, Robert Rubin and Stephen Friedman. Rubin went on to become Treasury secretary. His deputy and successor in that post, Larry Summers, later led the council as well. Its current leader, Jeff Zeints, is a former management consultant.