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

Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinOvernight Defense: Trump hits Iranian central bank with sanctions | Trump meeting with Ukrainian leader at UN | Trump touts relationship with North Korea's Kim as 'best thing' for US Trump says he's sanctioning Iran's national bank Lawmakers run into major speed bumps on spending bills 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 TrumpJulián Castro: It's time for House Democrats to 'do something' about Trump Warren: Congress is 'complicit' with Trump 'by failing to act' Sanders to join teachers, auto workers striking in Midwest 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."