Trump's Commerce Dept plagued by low morale and ‘disarray’ as chief Wilbur Ross falls asleep in meetings: report
U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross speaking with attendees at the 2018 Student Action Summit hosted by Turning Point USA at the Palm Beach County Convention Center in West Palm Beach, Florida. (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

For months, there has been speculation in Washington, D.C. that Wilbur Ross, secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce for the Trump Administration, is on his way out. Reports that Ross falls asleep in meetings don’t exactly instill confidence in his leadership. And Politico’s Daniel Lippman, in a troubling report, describes the Commerce Department as being in a state of chaos and disorganization.


Lippman reports that according to his sources, the 81-year-old Ross “spends much of his time at the White House” in order to “retain President Donald Trump’s favor.” And the Commerce Department is suffering, Lippman observes, because of Ross’ “penchant for managing upward at the expense of his staff.”

Examples of chaos in the Commerce Department that Lippman cites range from “infighting among top officials” to “sudden departures of senior staffers without explanation.” And Ross, according to Lippman’s sources, is viewed as “a leader who is disengaged and prone to falling asleep in meetings.”

A former outside advisor to the Commerce Department told Politico that Ross is “sort of seen as kind of irrelevant” and that “the morale is very low there because there’s not a lot of confidence in the secretary.” Ross, that source told Politico, is “not respected in the building.”

According to that source, “Because he tends to fall asleep in meetings, they try not to put him in a position where that could happen. So, they’re very careful and conscious about how they schedule certain meetings. There’s a small window where he’s able to focus and pay attention and not fall asleep.”

Examples of chaos in the Commerce Department that Lippman cites range from “infighting among top officials” to “sudden departures of senior staffers without explanation.” And Ross, according to Lippman’s sources, is viewed as “a leader who is disengaged and prone to falling asleep in meetings.”

A former outside advisor to the Commerce Department told Politico that Ross is “sort of seen as kind of irrelevant” and that “the morale is very low there because there’s not a lot of confidence in the secretary.” Ross, that source told Politico, is “not respected in the building.”

According to that source, “Because he tends to fall asleep in meetings, they try not to put him in a position where that could happen. So, they’re very careful and conscious about how they schedule certain meetings. There’s a small window where he’s able to focus and pay attention and not fall asleep.”

“Things come to a screeching halt because (Comstock) demands to be the final decision on everything, whether it’s an e-mail that goes out to (Capitol) Hill or a letter to respond to X, Y and Z,” a White House source familiar with the Commerce Department told Politico.

During the late 2016 lame duck session, then-President-Elect Trump announced that he would be nominating Ross (a veteran banker) for secretary of the Commerce Department. Ross was confirmed by the Republican-controlled Senate on February 27, 2017.