(Adds Cohn's financial crisis-era visits to Washington,
By Steve Holland and Olivia Oran
NEW YORK Nov 30 President-elect Donald Trump is
considering Goldman Sachs Group Inc President and Chief
Operating Officer Gary Cohn to head the White House budget
office or to fill other positions, a Trump transition official
said on Wednesday.
Cohn, 56, a former Goldman commodities trader who joined the
firm in 1990, has been widely considered to be the heir apparent
to Chief Executive Officer Lloyd Blankfein.
Dow Jones reported earlier on Wednesday that Cohn, who met
with Trump on Tuesday, has had discussions about leaving the
If Cohn is picked to become Trump's budget director and is
subsequently confirmed by the U.S. Senate early next year, he
would play a lead role in formulating spending priorities for
domestic and international programs funded by Washington.
The budgets produced annually by the White House's Office of
Management and Budget are a reflection of every administration's
legislative priorities and a blueprint for detailed spending and
tax bills the president wants Congress to consider.
Cohn has donated both to Democrats and Republicans over the
years. He has given more recently to Republicans, including
$33,400 to the National Republican Congressional Committee in
2015, according to campaign contribution records. They also
showed that in 2007 and 2008, Cohn donated to Democrats Barack
Obama and Hillary Clinton's presidential campaigns.
Cohn is a former Goldman commodities trader from Ohio who
joined the firm in 1990. He served in a variety of leadership
roles in bond trading, becoming co-head of Goldman's broader
securities and eventually, co-president in 2006.
He makes frequent appearances at industry conferences and on
television, where he speaks about the state of the financial
Cohn struggled with dyslexia as a child and bounced from
school to school, according to a Malcolm Gladwell profile from
his book "David and Goliath."
Cohn is typically known throughout Goldman for his direct
and abrasive manner in dealing with colleagues, although he has
become more polished in recent years, current and former
Leaving Goldman to go to Washington would not be the first
time that Cohn had taken a big risk.
He was given his first job on Wall Street after visiting the
trading pit and sharing a cab with one of the traders to
LaGuardia airport. Although Cohn knew nothing about trading
options, he convinced the trader to give him an interview
opportunity and he eventually landed a job on the floor of the
"Everything I've done in my career ... is to take risks,"
Cohn said in a 2009 speech at American University's Kogod School
of Business to new graduates.
Alongside Blankfein, Cohn is one of the few senior
executives left on Wall Street who navigated through the
financial crisis. Cohn's co-president, Jon Winkelried, left the
firm in 2009.
But with Blankfein showing no sign that he will step down
soon, some inside the firm have wondered if Cohn has other
aspirations outside the Wall Street bank.
Pacific Investment Management Co in 2013 had considered Cohn
to replace Mohamed El-Erian. But discussions never progressed
beyond an initial stage, according to reports at the time.
While Cohn does not have political experience, he is no
stranger to Capitol Hill. Cohn was a regular visitor to
Washington following the financial crisis, speaking to lawmakers
and regulators about the markets, financial regulation and the
He has known Sen. Sherrod Brown, the Democratic senator from
Ohio, for years and has contributed to his campaign.
Cohn met with lawmakers, including Brown, in 2014 as Goldman
tried to defend its presence in the commodities market.
Cohn is also friendly with Rob Portman, the Ohio Republican
senator who renounced his support for Trump in October. The two
co-hosted an event in 2013 in Cleveland for small business
owners who graduated from Goldman's 10,000 Small Business
Cohn is just one of a cadre of other former Goldman Sachs
executives who are slated to join the Trump administration,
including nominee for Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and
White House adviser Steve Bannon.
With the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives both under
Republican control, Trump's budget proposals are likely to
receive more serious consideration than budgets submitted over
the past few years by President Obama, who was regularly at odds
with Republican lawmakers.
(Reporting by Steve Holland; additional reporting by Olivia
Oran in New York and Richard Cowan in Washington; Writing by Tim
Ahmann; Editing by Doina Chiacu and Grant McCool)