Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross Is Sleeping In Meetings, Apparently & Trump Is Bashing Him
While most of world waits anxiously to hear what the president is going to say next, the United States Secretary of Commerce doesn't appear to be that interested. According to reports, Donald Trump is angry at Wilbur Ross for falling asleep in White House meetings and during speeches.
"Wilbur has lost his step," Trump reportedly said of the 80-year-old while shaking his head, according to Axios. "Actually, he's probably lost a lot of steps."
In the beginning of his presidency, Trump depended on Ross to negotiate trade deals with China. But, in addition to sleeping in meetings, Ross has not delivered in the way the president wants.
"These trade deals, they're terrible," Trump said in an Oval Office meeting about six months into his presidency, according to Axios. "Your understanding of trade is terrible. Your deals are no good. No good." Trump has now decided to handle the deals himself, according to reports.
Meanwhile, Ross' problem of nodding off in meetings continues. There's video of Ross falling sleeping during Trump's speech to Muslim leaders in Saudi Arabia; one source told Axios, "Wilbur is good until about 11 a.m."
The White House has disputed these reports, saying that Ross is still very much in control of trade policies.
"Secretary Ross is leading the administration's approach on steel, aluminum, intellectual property and trade," Principal Deputy White House Press Secretary Raj Shah said. "Far from souring on his performance, since taking office, the President has expanded his responsibilities."
Ross was nominated by Trump to be the Secretary of Commerce in November 2016 and was sworn in February 2017. According to New York, Trump boasted about Ross' stature on Wall Street. Before his Cabinet appointment, Ross ran the WL Ross & Co., a private equity firm, and was known for restructuring companies in the steel, coal, telecommunications, and foreign investment industries, among others.
Despite the White House's claims that Ross is still in charge of trade for the Trump administration, New York reported that trade representative Robert Lighthizer has taken over as Trump's lead negotiator for foreign trade matters.
Ross also reportedly bragged about a deal he'd made to open the Chinese market to American beef; this rubbed the president the wrong way, according to New York. Still, the secretary is reportedly trying his best to get back on the president's good side.
"Wilbur's been sucking up for months," a source told the magazine, "trying to get back in the president's good graces." It's been unsuccessful so far, according to the insider.
But this isn't the first time the commerce secretary's name has made headlines. In 2017, Forbes removed Ross from its list of billionaires after discovering he'd lied about his assets. Once they sifted through the financial disclosure forms Ross filed when he entered government, the publication found that the investor's net worth was around $700 million, not the $2.9 billion he claimed.
Ross was also called out in 2017 because one of his companies has close ties to Vladimir Putin, a fact he neglected to disclose to senators during his confirmation hearing.
These could all be potential contributing factors to Trump's change of heart when it comes to Ross... or maybe he really is just upset that someone could sleep through his speeches.