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White House has 'high testosterone,' but it isn't in 'chaos,' says commerce secretary

  • The administration's transition has been "normal" for a party change, Wilbur Ross told CNBC
  • President Donald Trump's use of Twitter hasn't been a distraction for the administration, he said

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told CNBC that the White House isn't in chaos, its transition was "normal," and he blamed the news media for being too focused on Washington.

"Anytime you have a new administration, particularly a shift from one party that had been in the administration for eight years to another one, you're bound to have a lot of new faces come in," he told CNBC's "Squawk Box" on Wednesday.

"With hundreds of people with high testosterone coming into the White House, the idea that there would be a little pulling and tugging surely is not a strange idea. So that's normal to administrations," he added.

(From L) US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, US President Donald Trump, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and advisor Jared Kuchner take part in bilateral meeting with Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud at the Saudi Royal Court in Riyadh on May 20, 2017.
Mandel Ngan | AFP | Getty Images
(From L) US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, US President Donald Trump, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and advisor Jared Kuchner take part in bilateral meeting with Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud at the Saudi Royal Court in Riyadh on May 20, 2017.

Ross said what is unusual is that the actions of President Donald Trump's administration are "so public," which he blamed on the news media being "intensely focused" on Washington, DC.

"Frankly, a lot of the media folks can't get over the fact that President Trump in fact is the president, is going to be the president for eight years, I hope, not just four," Ross said.

Ross also said he didn't believe the president's controversial use of Twitter was a distraction from the administration's core goals.

This week, Trump came under criticism for a long series of Twitter comments criticizing NFL players for kneeling during the national anthem prior to games.

Trump didn't appear to be moving on from his complaints about the protests.

Late on Tuesday U.S. time, he said on Twitter that even Jamaican Olympian Usain Bolt "showed respect for our national anthem."

Trump included an undated video of Bolt standing during the U.S. national anthem in the middle of a live television interview at an unidentified sporting event.

Critics noted that Trump appeared to be focusing on the NFL spat rather than a growing humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico, which was struck by Hurricane Maria last week.

Trump then responded with tweets that focused primarily on Puerto Rico's "broken infrastructure" and "massive debt."

Congress to blame on health care, Ross says

He pointed instead to Congress for the failures to complete Trump's agenda.

"The administration has been moving ahead," he said. "The one disappointment has been Congress' inability to come to conclusions on health care and we hope that's not a warning sign that we'll have equal problems with other pieces of legislation."

Trump and GOP leaders suffered another health-care defeat this week.

Republicans aim to pass tax reform through the same special budget rules they used on health care, which preclude a filibuster by Senate Democrats. That only works if the 52-member GOP caucus can achieve consensus among at least 50 senators, allowing Vice President Mike Pence to break a tie if necessary.

But Republicans have not reached consensus on key issues. Those include the size and scope of the plan, whether it can increase the deficit, how low the rate on businesses can go, and whether taxes can be reduced for wealthy Americans.

—CNBC's John Harwood contributed to this article.