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- President Donald Trump has soured on Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, according to the news website Axios.
- Trump reportedly criticized the 80-year-old Ross for falling asleep during meetings.
- Ross is no longer the lead negotiator in trade talks with China, the report said.
President Donald Trump has lost faith in Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, criticizing him for falling asleep during meetings and saying he has “lost a step,” according to a report from the news website Axios on Sunday.
“Wilbur has lost his step,” Trump told an Axios source, according to the news outlet, which added that Trump shook his head “in resignation.”
“Actually, he’s probably lost a lot of steps.”
Trump reportedly told the source that Ross, who turned 80 in November, “is good until about 11 a.m.”
The president initially touted Ross as one of his most coveted Cabinet members because of his extensive Wall Street experience. But Trump has apparently been disappointed in Ross’ inability to negotiate trade deals with China, and the president recently allowed Robert Lighthizer, the US trade representative, to take the lead on trade talks, according to Axios.
Trump reportedly berated and humiliated Ross in meetings when the transition to Lighthizer’s stewardship began six months ago.
“These trade deals, they’re terrible,” Trump said at the time, a source who was in the room told Axios. “Your understanding of trade is terrible. Your deals are no good. No good.”
The White House denied that Ross was no longer in the president’s good graces.
“Secretary Ross is leading the administration’s approach on steel, aluminum, intellectual property, and trade,” the White House deputy press secretary, Lindsay Walters, said in a statement. “Far from souring on his performance, since taking office, the president has expanded his responsibilities.”