Wilbur ‘Killer’ Ross Isn’t Worried About the Trade Wars


Republicans and Democrats confronted Ross with similar complaints about businesses in their states when he appeared before the Senate Committee on Finance in June for a hearing on the tariffs. Ross, as usual, had come with charts, which showed that the exclusion process was working, albeit slowly. He didn’t win over many skeptics. “Mr. Secretary, your charts notwithstanding, America’s small businesses believe that they are being held hostage in a bureaucratic twilight zone,” said Oregon Senator Ron Wyden, a Democrat.

The same month, the Office of Government Ethics released Ross’s financial disclosure report, in which he claimed to have discovered, much to his surprise, that near the end of 2017 he still owned some investments he’d promised earlier to sell. Ross’s attorney, Theodore Kassinger, says the commerce secretary came to Washington without fully understanding the financial disclosure regulations or having his paperwork in order. Not everybody is satisfied with this excuse. “This is a man who wants people to think he’s this wealthy, savvy, brilliant investor,” says Delaney Marsco, ethics counsel for the Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan watchdog that’s called for an investigation of Ross’s finances. “But at certain times, he also wants us to believe that, like, you know, whoops, I forgot about millions of dollars of stock.”

Ross is also under scrutiny for his decision in March to ask Americans about their citizenship in the 2020 census, outraging immigrants’ rights groups, which sued the department. 

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