A Democratic senator said Wilbur Ross may need to step down as commerce secretary for failing to reveal business ties that put him one step removed from Russian president Vladimir Putin.
Leaked documents known as the “Paradise Papers” show the billionaire industrialist retains an interest in a shipping company closely tied to Putin’s son-in-law and other members of his inner circle — which Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) said Ross should have revealed during his confirmation hearing.
“I feel misled, and the American people ought to feel misled,” Blumenthal told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “The Congress should feel misled, because Wilbur Ross came to our committee, he claimed to be divesting and selling all of these interests but, in fact, he has retained an ownership stake in a company, Navigator, that does business with this Russian energy giant. He probably makes more money from shipping gas for Russia than he does as commerce secretary when he goes to negotiate trade agreements.
Host Joe Scarborough said Ross was the latest example of President Donald Trump’s inner circle who hid close ties to Russia, and he said the president himself had been caught lying about Russia by helping his son cover up the purpose of a campaign meeting with a Kremlin-linked lawyer.
“What I think should happen is the inspector general should investigate, we ought to have hearings in the commerce committee,” Blumenthal said. “He came before it, and he apparently deliberately concealed these ownership interests. There ought to be hearings, and if he fails to give a compelling explanation, he ought to resign.”
Blumenthal said the commerce secretary’s trustworthiness and credibility was seriously in doubt after the revelations.
“This stake in a company with such close ties to Putin’s son-in-law, a Russian oligarch subject to sanctions, raises profound questions about whether he can put the nation’s interest above his own, and whether he’ll be beholden to the industry,” Blumenthal said.