Welcome to WHAT NOW, a morning round-up of the news/fresh horrors that await you today.
President Donald Trump has reportedly put his Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross on his bad list after repeatedly dressing him down for his “terrible” trade deals—though a rest for Ross might not be the worst thing, considering multiple reports that he routinely falls asleep in meetings.
According to Axios’ Jonathan Swan, Trump tore into Ross in a series of Oval Office meetings six months into his presidency. “These trade deals, they’re terrible,” the president said, according to a source in the room for one of those meetings. “Your understanding of trade is terrible. Your deals are no good. No good.”
Trump also reportedly chastised Ross in front of his colleagues, openly questioning his intelligence and competence. This all comes after the president boasted about hiring Ross, who made a personal fortune as a legendary vulture investor, as a feather in his new administration’s cap, telling White House visitors that “Wilbur is so famous on Wall Street he only needs one name,” according to Axios.
The 80-year-old isn’t much helped by the fact that he often noticeably falls asleep in meetings, with one former administration official saying Ross is good “until about 11 a.m.”
Politico’s Eliana Johnson took that vision one step further:
Of course, Trump administration officials pushed back at Axios’ reporting. Principal Deputy White House Press Secretary Raj Shah said that “Far from souring on his performance, since taking office, the President has expanded [Ross’] responsibilities,” while U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said he works with Ross daily, saying, “We all value his sharp business acumen, his insight into trade policy issues, and his hard work to advance the President’s agenda.”
- We’re entering day three of the government shutdown, with a vote in the Senate scheduled for noon, although a bipartisan group of senators failed to reach a compromise in a meeting Sunday night.
- Stephen Miller, the administration’s resident immigration hardliner and one of the last of Trump’s original advisers still standing, attempted to sell a bunch of Breitbart writer on an immigration compromise deal last fall. It included protections for DACA recipients coupled with tougher immigration restrictions, according to a new profile in The Washington Post. The meeting reportedly devolved into an expletive-filled “blowup.”
- Vice President Mike Pence is in the Middle East. He’s scheduled to meet with Israeli government officials today after talks with leaders of Egypt and Jordan. He’s not scheduled to speak with Palestinian leaders for the duration of his tour.
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