Trump boasts of US economic gains in Davos as impeachment trial gets underway

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President Trump on Tuesday boasted of U.S. economic might to a room full of billionaires and global business leaders in Davos, Switzerland, as his impeachment trial was set to get underway in Washington.

The president delivered a 30-minute address to attendees at the World Economic Forum, where he credited his administration’s agenda of cutting taxes, rolling back regulations and imposing tariffs to secure more favorable trade deals with fostering a booming domestic economy.

“This is not a time for pessimism, this is a time for optimism,” he told the business leaders, many of whom have been uneasy about Trump’s “America First” approach.

“Fear and doubt is not a good thought process because this is a time for tremendous joy, and hope, and optimism and action,” he added. “But to embrace the possibilities of tomorrow we must reject the perennial prophets of doom and their predictions of the apocalypse. They are the heirs of yesterday’s foolish fortune-tellers … and they want to see us do badly, but we don’t let that happen.”

While other leaders who addressed the forum devoted time to discussing climate change and global collaboration, Trump’s speech mostly amounted to a laundry list of his administration’s accomplishments, adding that “a nation’s highest duty is to its own citizens.”

He cited record low unemployment rates for various minority groups; pointed to rising wages for young workers; highlighted a spike in manufacturing jobs; mentioned newly passed family leave for federal workers; touted recent trade deals with China and Mexico and Canada; and boasted of U.S. oil and gas production.

“Today, I urge other nations to follow our examples and liberate your citizens form the crushing weight of bureaucracy,” Trump said.

The president described the economic gains as a “blue-collar boom” that has strengthened the middle class and lifted many out of poverty. That message has been strongly contested by Democrats running for the party’s presidential nomination, all of whom insist the Trump economy has disproportionately benefited wealthier Americans and exacerbated income inequality.

Trump traveled to Switzerland for the annual confab of business leaders even as his impeachment trial in the Senate was about to commence. The issue is likely to cast a shadow over some of the president’s meetings while in Davos.

The president was asked about the impeachment proceedings as he arrived at the convention center to deliver his speech. He derided impeachment as a “hoax” and a “disgrace,” but did not mention it at all during his remarks.

The speech itself contained a few flourishes that have become standard in Trump speeches, as he embellished some of his accomplishments and targeted familiar scapegoats.

Trump jabbed at the Federal Reserve, saying it raised interest rates too quickly, and at one point swiped at “socialists,” a term he has sought to associate with some of his potential Democratic opponents in 2020.

He described the economy he inherited from the Obama administration in dismal terms, claiming experts predicted a decade of slow or even negative growth and declaring the turnaround under his leadership had been “nothing short of spectacular.”

At one point, Trump declared he “saved” historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs).

“We saved them. They were going out and we saved them,” he said, a possible reference to a bill signed in December that will permanently provide tens of millions of dollars annually to HBCUs.

Trump will meet Tuesday with the president of the European Commission, the president of Switzerland and the prime minister of Pakistan. He is scheduled to have additional bilateral meetings on Wednesday before returning to Washington, D.C.

Meanwhile, the Senate will gavel into session at 1 p.m. on Tuesday to begin procedural debates for Trump’s trial. Democrats are expected to press for witness testimony and new evidence to be admitted, something Republicans have said they oppose.

House impeachment managers will likely begin their opening arguments on Wednesday, and will have 24 hours over two days to make their case that Trump abused his office and obstructed Congress. The White House will then get 24 hours over two days to respond.

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said Tuesday that Trump “has a full day here in Davos, but will be briefed by staff periodically” on developments on impeachment.

–Updated at 9:07 a.m.

Tags Davos Economic Forum Donald Trump economy Stephanie Grisham Trump impeachment
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