Internal White House battles spill into Treasury

Already, critics note that Mnuchin has selected another Democratic donor, Craig Phillips, for a top position within the department. He told senators at his confirmation hearing that he supports parts of the controversial Volcker Rule, which prohibits banks from making some bets with their own money — an anathema to conservatives who want to scrap stricter banking laws.

.. “For conservatives, Mnuchin is a missed opportunity because he is not conservative. He will not drive the kind of tax reform we want, nor will he be strong on fixing Dodd-Frank,” the donor added.

.. Allies of Cohn and Powell, both former Goldman Sachs executives like Mnuchin, say their opponents, led by Bannon, are attempting to plant stories about Cohn and those around him to discredit their standing with conservatives and with Trump himself.

.. These include allegations that Cohn is pushing a carbon tax and for keeping the U.S. in the Paris climate accords and was behind a visit to the White House by Zeke Emanuel, an architect of Obamacare.

.. Cohn has proven himself among the few West Wing advisers able and willing to contradict the president. One person close to the matter said the NEC director regularly pushes back in meetings with the Trump. “It’s always done in a respectful, ‘Can I just make my point?’ kind of way. He’s not interrupting him,” this person said.

.. Cohn has also been positioning himself as the leader of any upcoming tax reform process. This month, he met with Ways and Means Republicans and his top tax policy adviser, Shahira Knight, to give a broad overview of how the White House views tax reform

.. “We believe in free trade. We are in one of the largest markets in the world. …Trade has been good for us. It has been good for other people,” he said. “Having said that, we want to re-examine certain agreements.”

.. once the health care fight is over they should be able to take center stage.”

.. Advocates of the Bannon wing, which also includes senior adviser Stephen Miller, argue that pursuing this kind of centrist approach, either at Treasury or inside the White House, would be a rejection of Trump’s voters who elected him on a clear platform of changing trade policy to benefit Americans, building a wall with Mexico, cracking down on illegal immigration and preventing travel to the United States from nations associated with terrorism.

.. Conservatives have applauded a few of Mnuchin recent picks for top Treasury jobs, including David Malpass, a former Bear Stearns economist, for the undersecretary of international affairs and Drew Maloney, Rep. Tom DeLay’s former legislative director, for the assistant secretary for legislative affairs. Among others, Treasury also added Dan Kowalski, Stephen Miller’s deputy on the Trump campaign, as a counselor.