Trump’s Commerce secretary did not disclose ties to Putin family: report

Commerce Secretary Wilbur RossWilbur Louis RossHolding defiant Trump witnesses to account, Jan. 6 committee carries out Congress's constitutional role Bannon's subpoena snub sets up big decision for Biden DOJ House panel, Commerce Department reach agreement on census documents MORE failed to disclose shared business interests with Russian President Vladimir Putin's family during his confirmation process, according to documents obtained by several news organizations. 

The documents show that Ross still has interest in Navigator Holdings, which was partially owned by his investment company. Putin's son-in-law, as well as other members of the president's inner circle, control a Russian energy firm that has a relationship with Navigator.

German publication Süddeutsche Zeitung first obtained the documents, which were leaked from a Bermuda law firm. The documents were then shared with NBC News by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. 


Ross previously vowed to cut ties with more 80 financial entities that he has interests in, a move that won him praise from Republicans and Democrats. 

That vow was repeated by a Commerce Department spokesperson, who told NBC News in a statement that Ross has recused himself from matters related to transoceanic shipping and is in contact with ethics officials to “ensure the highest ethical standards.”

The spokesperson added Ross has "generally" supported sanctions regarding Russia, although the statement did not address the ties referenced in the NBC News report. 

The report comes as special counsel Robert Mueller makes inroads in the federal probe into Russia's election meddling and alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Moscow. 

Mueller announced last Monday that former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Manafort's associate, Richard Gates, had been charged with conspiracy against the U.S. and money laundering. 

The White House said on Monday the charges have nothing to do with the campaign. 

The special counsel also revealed that former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russian officials. 

NBC reported on Sunday that Mueller has enough evidence to bring charges in the probe into Trump's former national security adviser, Michael Flynn. 

--This report was updated on Nov. 6 at 10:21 a.m.