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Trump Was Going to Name Gary Cohn Head of the C.I.A. Because, Why Not?

Bess Levin
A Wall Street executive with zero relevant experience? Hired!

Fourteen months ago, the sentence “the Secretary of State has just learned he was fired via Twitter“ likely seemed farfetched—perhaps slightly less ludicrous than the suggestion, by the president’s chief of staff, that said Cabinet official was warned of his imminent dismissal while on the can. But in Donald Trump’s world, where we all now reside, that‘s a totally normal set of events. And now, we’ve learned that the situation was even more batshit behind the scenes, with the president apparently coming this close to making the sort of personnel decision that would’ve made tasking Ivanka with running the C.D.C. during an outbreak of the bubonic plague seem reasonable. Politico reports that before he decided he couldn’t take one more second working in the Trump administration, Gary Cohn was under strong consideration for the C.I.A. director job left vacant by Mike Pompeo, who’s set to replace Rex Tillerson at State. Yes, that Gary Cohn.

As National Economic Council director, ol’ Gar was more qualified than anyone working for Team Trump by a factor of 1,000. However, though he is many things—a former Goldman Sachs president, a shrewd trader, a guy who stands up for what he believes in (no indiscriminate tariffs!)—he also has zero background in national security. Appointing him to lead the Central Intelligence Agency would be like hiring me, your humble Levin Report auteur, to perform brain surgery. Of course, to Trump, this made Cohn the perfect man for the job, by the same logic—you have no background for a job that requires a high level of expertise? You’re hired!—that probably informed decisions like the one to name BetsyWhat are these things you call ‘books’?DeVos education secretary, to appoint Benfive-figure office redesigns are perfectly reasonableCarson head of the department of Housing and Urban Development, and to reportedly consider firing scandal magnet David Shulkin at Veterans Affairs and replacing him with RickWhere am I? Who am I?Perry. According to reporters Eliana Johnson, Ben White, and Andrew Restuccia, Trump “informally offered Cohn the position, telling him he thought he’d be a good fit for the job, and Cohn agreed to take it.”

In the end, of course, the president decided to name Pompeo’s deputy, Torture Queen Gina Haspel, to the C.I.A. role instead, and Cohn decided to run as far away as physically possible from Idiot Island. And while it’s unclear why Trump changed his mind—it’s possible this was just another instance of him letting words tumble from his mouth at random and not actually ever intending to make good on what he said or, more likely, he was smitten by her role running one of the agency’s most brutal “black sites,”—the real kicker is that we probably would have slept better with the wholly unqualified Cohn at the helm:

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