Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross has always been the Trump administration’s scandal waiting to happen. Not the only scandal, mind you, but the scandal with the greatest potential to expose just how sordid and conflicted this president’s inner circle really is.
A longtime associate of Trump who was once described as “The Bottom-Feeder King,” Ross slid through the confirmation process by skirting questions from key Democrats about banking arrangements that intersected with those of Russian oligarchs. He was able to do that because Senate Commerce Committee chair John Thune (R-SD) and Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY)were determined to grease the wheels for a Wall Street insider with a history of keeping Trump afloat financially.
Despite the fact that Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) warned that Ross “has shady ties to Vladimir Putin’s Russia,” the full Senate confirmed Trump’s nominee on a 72-27 vote. (A number of Democrats joined Republicans in giving Ross a pass—in part because the nominee sent moderate signals on issues like climate change.)
But it was only a matter of time until the 79-year-old billionaire—whose ownership role with the Bank of Cyprus, which “caters to wealthy Russians,” was never adequately examined during the confirmation process—would end up on the receiving end of the scrutiny that should have denied him a place in the cabinet. Now the time has come for the checking and balancing that Ross avoided when the Senate failed to perform due diligence regarding his nomination.
Ross’s controversial financial arrangements are making headlines following the release of millions of documents from the Bermuda-based law firm Appleby, which were leaked to the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung. According to NBC,