U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said he met President Donald J. Trump, then a New York real estate businessman, under “peculiar circumstances” back in the 1990s.
“We actually met under adverse circumstances in that I was on the bondholders’ side in the Trump Taj Mahal bankruptcy in Atlantic City,” the billionaire Ross said during an interview at the Concordia Summit in New York on Tuesday.
The other big player in that bankruptcy was fellow billionaire Carl Icahn, who also supported Trump during the election.
Ross recalled that Trump was in “a lot of financial troubles” at the time, but he “came out extremely well.”
In 1990, Ross and Icahn could have forced Trump’s embattled casino empire into bankruptcy, but instead, they let him restructure in 1991, according to the New York Times.
“I was very impressed with how well he handled himself,” Ross said. “When you meet people who are under all tremendous financial pressure, under all the stresses and strains, and the public stresses and strains, you really get to see what they are made of. And he was made of much stronger stuff than a lot of the other owners and operators of troubled businesses.”
Ross said that he “worked hard” to get Trump elected and the reason he agreed to serve as Commerce Secretary is that he would like to see him succeed.
Julia La Roche is a finance reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter.