Now that the citizenship question is dead in the water and with Trump's various trade wars spreading and spiraling out of control, what is actually happening at the Commerce Department?
Not a lot according to department sources who spoke to Politico.
Sources in and from the Commerce Department say Secretary Wilbur Ross is almost never around because he spends most of his time at the White House sucking up to Trump. They also say he doesn't hold a lot of meetings because he falls asleep during meetings.
“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,” said a former outside adviser to Commerce who is still in touch with many employees inside the department. “He’s not respected in the building.”
Ross doesn’t hold routine meetings with senior staffers, according to a person familiar with the department’s inner workings and a former outside adviser -- a departure from past practice that one source attributed to the secretary’s lack of stamina.
“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 the former outside adviser. “There’s a small window where he’s able to focus and pay attention and not fall asleep.”
Secretary Wilbur Ross is "kind of irrelevant," but that doesn't make him unique in the Trump regime.
They're all irrelevant; all of Trump's transient secretaries and cabinet members. They're all irrelevant because, at the end of the day, they still answer to Trump.
Members of a president's cabinet have always answered to the sitting president, but previous presidents weren't Trump. Officials from previous administrations benefited from the fact that their presidents actually cared about what they had to say and took their opinions and policy positions into consideration.
Presidents have never been obligated to follow every bit of guidance from their cabinet and they've always set the tone of the whole federal government, but the federal government has never been at the mercy of emotional whim as much as it is under Trump. Almost any policy -- no matter how long its been common practice or a standing precedent -- could be overturned at a moment's notice if Trump gets a bug up his ass about it.
I doubt it's a coincidence that Politico is reporting this story now that Trump's citizenship question is dead and I expect we'll see more horror stories emerge from the Commerce Department in the coming days or weeks. And I expect it will lead to Trump replacing Ross by the end of the year if not sooner.