"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," Ross said, according to a report in Variety. "It was in lieu of after-dinner entertainment ... The thing was, it didn't cost the president anything to have that entertainment."
(The actual cost of launching the 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles was about $60 million.)
The crowd went wild after Ross' remarks, Variety reported. The controversial billionaire was speaking at an event hosted by the Milken Institute, a California think tank. Conference-goers paid at least $12,500 each to attend unless they had ties to event sponsors like Goldman Sachs, Reuters noted in a story that called the event a meeting of the "global elite."
The Department of Commerce did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Trump made the decision to hit Syria after U.S. officials blamed Syrian President Bashar Assad's government for a chemical weapons attack that killed at least 87 people in early April. French intelligence officials say they have since confirmed that Assad was responsible.
Last month, Trump shared his own colorful recollection of when he told the Chinese president about the Syria strike.
"I was sitting at the table. We had finished dinner. We're now having dessert. And we had the most beautiful piece of chocolate cake that you've ever seen, and President Xi was enjoying it," Trump told Fox News Business host Maria Bartiromo last month.
"I said, 'We've just launched 59 missiles heading to Iraq and I wanted you to know this.' And he was eating his cake. And he was silent," Trump added. (Bartiromo reminded Trump that the country was Syria, not Iraq.)