Report: Wilbur Ross says Syria strike was "in lieu of after-dinner entertainment"

Wilbur L. Ross Jr., Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of W. L. Ross & Company speaks at the 2009 Reuters Restructuring Summit in New York September 29, 2009. REUTERS/Mike Segar/Files Photo

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Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross compared the U.S. military strike in Syria following a chemical attack on civilians driven by the Assad regime to "after-dinner entertainment," according to a report by Variety.

Speaking at the Milken Institute Global Conference on Monday, Variety reports that Ross recalled the series of events that took place at Mar-a-Lago on April 6th, when dinner with visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping was seemingly interrupted.

"Just as dessert was being served, the president explained to Mr. Xi he had something he wanted to tell him, which was the launching of 59 missiles into Syria, it was in lieu of after-dinner entertainment," said Ross.

While the perplexing comparison initially drew laughs from the crowd, as Variety reports, Ross added "the thing was, it didn't cost the president anything to have that entertainment."

President Donald Trump recently told CBS News' John Dickerson in an interview on Face the Nation that the decision to launch the Tomahawk missiles into Syria was a "tough" one.

"You're killing people. And you can kill the wrong people, too. You know, those things go off and they end up in a town or they end up in a city. And you have another tragedy on your hands. So, these decisions are unbelievable -- you know, in terms of the importance because it's human-- it's--it's--it's killing. I hate it. But things have to be done," said Mr. Trump.

The launch of the missiles on a Syrian air base killed nine people and marked the first time Washington has directly targeted Syrian government forces since the war began in 2011. 

  • Emily Tillett

    Emily Tillett is a politics reporter and video editor for CBS News Digital