Speed Reads

the trump cabinet

Commerce nominee Wilbur Ross vows to be 'quite scrupulous'

Billionaire investor Wilbur Ross, President-elect Donald Trump's choice for commerce secretary, faced the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee for his confirmation hearing Wednesday. Last week, the Senate committee announced it was delaying Ross' hearing due to ethics considerations, as Ross' team had not yet submitted required paperwork.

On Wednesday, Ross addressed his potential conflicts of interests, vowing to be "quite scrupulous about recusal on any topic where there's the slightest scintilla of doubt." But while being questioned by Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Ross admitted he would not be divesting all of his shipping interests:

As commerce secretary, Ross would oversee both domestic and foreign commerce — including international shipping. On Tuesday, Ross filed to divest at least 80 of his assets, The New York Times reported, as well as resign from "positions with more than two dozen funds or companies in which he has a financial interest." The Office of Government Ethics, which had objected to Ross' scheduled hearing last week due to a lack of completed ethics paperwork, subsequently released a 57-page disclosure of Ross' holdings Tuesday. Included in the OGE's Tuesday releases was an agreement it had struck with Ross "spelling out his plans for the divestiture of holdings that could pose a conflict with running the Commerce Department," the Times wrote.

CNN Money noted that while he is seeking to avoid conflicts of interest through the actions announced Tuesday, Ross will retain interests in 40 assets for up to six months after his confirmation, due to the fact that they are "illiquid" and will take longer to divest. There are also several assets in which Ross will retain financial interest "as a passive investor," as detailed in the OGE agreement; these holdings concern "transoceanic shipping, mortgage lending, and real estate financing."