Administration

Report: Ross 'tends to fall asleep' in Commerce meetings

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross reportedly has a tendency to doze off during meetings.

In a report detailing high turnover, infighting and other chaos in the Commerce Department, Politico reported that agency staff schedule meetings for certain times, knowing that the 81-year-old Ross is likely to fall asleep.

Citing four sources, Politico reported that officials are concerned about Ross's "stamina" and that his lack of involvement with the agency is resulting in low morale.

"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," said a former outside adviser familiar with the inner workings of the Commerce Department. "There's a small window where he's able to focus and pay attention and not fall asleep."

Sources told the news outlet that Ross is often at the White House attempting to gain favor with President Trump instead of being visible around the department.

"He's sort of seen as kind of irrelevant. The morale is very low there because there's not a lot of confidence in the secretary," the source said.

The sources described the current state of the department under Ross as a "disaster."

A spokesperson for the Commerce Department disputed Politico's reporting in a statement to The Hill.

"This article bears no relationship to reality. It seems to reflect the view of former officials who have since left the department," the spokesperson said.

"Secretary Ross is a tireless worker who is the sole decision maker at the Department. He routinely works twelve hour days and travels often, with visits to seven countries and eight states in the last three months to advance the President's agenda."

Ross drew increased scrutiny as the person in charge of trying to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census at Trump's direction.

The Supreme Court ultimately rejected the administration's argument to add the question,  and Trump later dropped the attempt.

However, the ordeal upset the president, who is also reportedly frustrated by Ross's leadership of the Census Bureau, which is within the Commerce Department. 

--Updated 10:08 a.m.

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