White House defends Trump's trip to Davos economic forum

The White House on Thursday defended President TrumpDonald John TrumpLondon terror suspect’s children told authorities he complained about Trump: inquiry The Memo: Tide turns on Kavanaugh Trump to nominate retiring lawmaker as head of trade agency MORE’s planned trip to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, against criticism from reporters that he’s going to “rub elbows” with “globalists.”

CBS News White House correspondent Major Garrett pressed Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinTrump announces tariffs on 0B in Chinese goods Trump: China tariff announcement to come Monday afternoon Trump could hit China with tariffs of 0 billion as soon as Monday MORE during the White House daily briefing on why the president would attend the forum, which he described as a “hangout for globalists.”

“I don't think it's a hangout for globalists," Mnuchin responded. "The idea is that the economic team is going to go over and talk about the 'America first' economic strategy. We are thrilled that the president is coming. And I think what we know is that the economy that is good for the U.S. is good for the rest of the world.”

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The U.S. typically sends a high-ranking delegation to the meeting of government and business leaders. Trump will be only the second sitting president to attend the Davos conference, after former President Clinton. This year's forum is scheduled to run Jan. 23-26.

A second reporter asked why it was appropriate for Trump to “rub elbows” with “very wealthy” people in Switzerland. 

Trump is a billionaire but ran a populist campaign aimed at energizing working-class Americans he said had been ignore by the Democrats.

“I assure you that the members of the Cabinet have no interest to go in there to rub elbows with anybody,” Mnuchin said. “This is about meeting business leaders and meeting our counterparts. It is all about creating jobs and economic growth for the U.S. … This is all business. I can assure you it has nothing to do with anything other than that."

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders added that Trump would talk to world leaders about correcting trade imbalances.

“I expect the president will talk about trade, reciprocal, free, fair trade,” Sanders said. “We have obviously been very clear with the Chinese on the issue that we have with the trade deficit and making sure that U.S. companies can compete fairly. And the president will talk a lot about his economic program and the impact on the global economy.”