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

Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinLawmakers fear voter backlash over failure to reach COVID-19 relief deal United Airlines, unions call for six-month extension of government aid House Democrats plan to unveil bill next week to avert shutdown 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 TrumpUS reimposes UN sanctions on Iran amid increasing tensions Jeff Flake: Republicans 'should hold the same position' on SCOTUS vacancy as 2016 Trump supporters chant 'Fill that seat' at North Carolina rally 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."