Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has taken heat for his role in the Trump administration’s failed efforts to add a citizenship question to the upcoming decennial census, but he also has another problem — the 81-year-old cabinet member reportedly can’t stop falling asleep in meetings.
Ross’ unique workplace issue was first reported by Axios in January of 2018, in a piece outlining how the secretary had fallen out of favor with the president. “Wilbur has lost his step,” Trump was quoted as telling a source for Axios. “Actually, he’s probably lost a lot of steps.”
But over a year and a half later, Ross is reportedly still suffering from the same problem. A Monday report from Politico detailing dysfunction in the Department of Commerce included a similar anecdote.
“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,” a former outside adviser to Ross told Politico. “There’s a small window where he’s able to focus and pay attention and not fall asleep.”
That story was disputed by Commerce Press Secretary Kevin Manning, who told Politico the secretary is “a tireless worker who is the sole decision-maker at the department.”
“He routinely works 12-hour days and travels often, with visits to seven countries and eight states in the last three months to advance the president’s agenda,” Manning said.
The secretary also denied the report in a tweet, saying it “bears no resemblance to reality and appears to be solely sourced from disgruntled former employees whose poor performance led to their departures.
— Sec. Wilbur Ross (@SecretaryRoss) July 22, 2019
Ross appeared to doze off during a 2017 speech from President Trump in Saudi Arabia:
If Ross was caught nodding off during multiple meetings at Commerce, it wouldn’t be the first time. The secretary took part in President Trump’s first overseas trip in 2017, where Ross was caught by cameras appearing to take a nap during the president’s speech in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.