Dem senator: Gary Cohn faked a bad connection to get off phone with Trump

A Democratic senator said Wednesday that White House National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn told President Trump he had a bad cell connection as an excuse to stop talking to Trump.

Sen. Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperAvalanche of Democratic senators say Franken should resign Overnight Cybersecurity: Mueller probe cost .7M in early months | Senate confirms Homeland Security nominee | Consumer agency limits data collection | Arrest in Andromeda botnet investigation Senate panel moves forward with bill to roll back Dodd-Frank MORE (D-Del.), who sits on the Senate Finance Committee, shared details of the meeting he attended with a group of moderate Democrats who discussed tax reform with Cohn and White House legislative affairs director Marc Short, while Trump joined by phone.

"I said to Gary, it was a room where we're all sitting around this big table, and I said, 'Gary, why don't you do this, just take the phone from, you know, your cellphone back and just say, Mr. President, you're brilliant. But we're losing contact, and I think we're going to lose you now, so good-bye.' And that's what he did and he hung up," Carper told CNN.

ADVERTISEMENT

Carper said the group of Democratic senators were looking to find common ground with the administration on taxes.

"We went back to having the kind of conversation where we needed to, where they ask a questions, looking for consensus, looking for common ground, and I think we identified [that]," he said.

CNN host John Berman asked Carper to clarify if he was saying Cohn faked a bad connection to get the president off of the phone.

"Well I wouldn't ... I don't want to throw him under the bus, but yes," Carper replied.

The White House pushed back on Carper's claim on Wednesday, calling it false.

“Senator Carper’s claim is completely false. Gary Cohn took the phone off speaker and continued to speak with the president privately for several minutes before they concluded the call," White House principal deputy press secretary Raj Shah said in a statement to The Hill.

Carper revealed in an interview with The Hill earlier this month that he told Cohn to fake a bad connection during the call so the Democratic senators could "have a real conversation" with the Trump administration officials who attended the meeting.

Trump “was ready to talk and talk and finally … after 15 minutes” Carper said he turned to Cohn to tell him, “We’re not going to have a real conversation here — can’t you just tell the president that he is brilliant and say we’re losing ... the connection and then hang up?”
 
Republicans have been pushing for tax reform as they look to secure their first major legislative victory during Trump's tenure.
 
Democratic senators have clashed with their GOP counterparts on the legislation. Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersSchumer: Franken should resign Franken resignation could upend Minnesota races Avalanche of Democratic senators say Franken should resign MORE (I-Vt.), who caucuses with Democrats, said on Sunday that Senate Democrats have been completely shut out of the process.

However, Trump has said Democrats have been unwilling to work with their Republican counterparts, calling them "obstructionists."