Wilbur Ross, Secretary of Commerce
Trump regards the 80-year-old Wall Street billionaire as his savior because in 1999 Ross, then head of Rothschild Inc.’s bankruptcy division, brokered a deal that saved Trump’s failing Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City. They remained friends, especially after 2000, when Ross left Rothschild and went into private equity as W. L. Ross & Co. As a so-called “vulture capitalist,” Ross’s interest focused mainly on coal mines and iron works, the industries Trump wants to resuscitate. Ross now spearheads Trump’s combative trade policies, notably his determination to either scrap or re-negotiate what he sees as trade agreements unfavorable to the U.S. and to impose steel and aluminum tariffs that would tax countries at 25 percent and 10 percent respectively. The threatened hikes have resulted in push back from Europe and China as well as warnings of a trade war from both sides of the Atlantic. Ross and his wife Hilary Geary Ross quickly made themselves a fixture in Washington’s social scene, hosting guests from both sides of the aisle at their art- filled Massachusetts Avenue Heights home.