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Mnuchin: 'I didn't realize' Davos forum was for 'global elites'

Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinMnuchin: ‘Premature to comment on sanctions’ against Saudi Arabia Trump official defends planned visit to Saudi Arabia On The Money: Mnuchin to attend anti-terror meeting in Saudi Arabia | Treasury releases guidance on 'opportunity zone' program | Maxine Waters gets company in new GOP line of attack MORE said Friday that he was not aware that the World Economic Forum was considered a gathering of the "global elite."

"I didn't realize it was the global elite," Mnuchin said at an event in Washington. "Actually, I've looked at the list. There's an awful lot of world leaders, there's an awful lot of finance chairs, there’s an awful lot of business people."

"This is an important economic agenda," he added, arguing that the gathering in Davos, Switzerland is just like any other conferences, like the annual Group of 20 summit. 

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The World Economic Forum, however, carries a reputation as a gathering of wealthy executives, government officials and celebrities in a Swiss resort town, making President TrumpDonald John TrumpFive takeaways from Gillum and DeSantis’s first debate GOP warns economy will tank if Dems win Gorbachev calls Trump's withdrawal from arms treaty 'a mistake' MORE's scheduled attendance there later this month a somewhat unexpected move.

As a presidential candidate, Trump campaigned against the so-called "elite" and "globalists," who typically attend the forum in Davos. 

Mnuchin announced at a White House press briefing on Thursday that he would lead the delegation to the World Economic Forum, which takes place Jan. 23-26, and insisted that the event was not a gathering for "globalists."

"I don’t think it’s a hangout for globalists," he said. "I think the idea is that the economic team will go over and talk about the America First economic strategy."