July 15, 2019 / 9:33 AM / a month ago

Trump administration denies possible ouster of Commerce Secretary Ross

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Monday denied a media report nbcnews.to/2XPQJ4B that President Donald Trump is considering removing Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross after a Supreme Court defeat on adding a citizenship question to the census.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks next to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross during a Cabinet meeting at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 12, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Barria/File Photo

Trump retreated on Thursday from adding a contentious question on citizenship to the 2020 census, but insisted he was not giving up his fight to count how many non-citizens are in the country and ordered government agencies to mine their databases.

Although Trump has previously been frustrated with Ross, in particular over some failed trade negotiations, the 81-year-old commerce secretary has so far kept his job.

Since late last year other media outlets have reported at different times that Trump, whose administration has been characterized by high turnover in top posts, was considering replacing Ross.

Mnuchin told reporters that Trump remained satisfied with Ross in his role. “I have every reason to think Secretary Ross is doing a good job. I’ve never heard anything otherwise,” Mnuchin said.

The Commerce Department said in a statement Monday that Ross was currently overseeing the department’s response to Hurricane Barry and noted that he had joined Trump on his trip to Wisconsin and Ohio on Friday.

Ross “will continue to work on behalf of the American people and the President’s America First agenda,” the department said.

However, NBC reported early Monday that Trump has been making calls to “allies outside the White House about replacing Ross.”

The White House declined to comment on Monday. Trump is set to have a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

On Friday, Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta resigned amid fresh scrutiny of his handling of a sex abuse case when he was a federal prosecutor in Florida more than a decade ago. Trump, who had supported the labor secretary amid calls for him to resign, said it was Acosta’s decision to step down.

Late on Friday, Trump said he disagreed with the findings of a Commerce Department investigation that found uranium imports threaten to impair U.S. national security and instead ordered a 90-day review by federal agencies, saying “a fuller analysis of national security considerations with respect to the entire nuclear fuel supply chain is necessary.”

Reporting by Rama Venkat in Bengaluru, and additional reporting by Rich McKay in Atlanta and David Shepardson in Washington; Writing by Makini Brice; editing by Jonathan Oatis

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