Two days after the NYT reported that Trump would attend the 48th World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland this month, making him the first sitting US president since the Clinton administration to attend the annual photo-op boondoggle of world leaders, billionaires, and captains of industry, Bloomberg leaked the people Trump will be taking with him to Davos (one year after the main topic at the Swiss village was how to avoid a Trump presidency and avoid populism).
According to Bloomberg, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer will go with Trump. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao will also accompany him, one of the people said.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Energy Secretary Rick Perry are also attending the World Economic Forum the week of Jan. 22 but as part of a separate U.S. delegation, one of the people said. They will arrive on Monday and leave Wednesday in part to free hotel rooms for Trump’s delegation, which arrives on Thursday.
What is notable is that while the main topic this year will surely be trade protectionism (and globalization), the delegation is made of half trade hawks and half doves. It is also worth remembering that Treasury Secretary Mnuchin and Cohn have been trying to convince President Trump not to pursue too aggressive trade policies.This is against the supposed advice of Ross, Lighthizer, and not mentioned for the Davos delegation, Peter Navarro.
Also notable is a report by Axios from last week, according to which "Cohn and (Treasury Secretary) Mnuchin are now appealing to Trump's obsession with the record-breaking run of the stock market under his presidency, according to four sources with direct knowledge." Cohn and Mnuchin have argued that an attack on trade would hurt stocks and the middle class, undoing the tax cut. However, "though Cohn and Mnuchin don't like tariffs, they're comparatively comfortable with targeted actions against truly bad actors, as in this case."
As a reminder, Trump’s administration is embracing Davos this year after previously spurning the gathering of the world’s economic elite. His former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, has derided people who attend the conference as the “party of Davos,” describing them as anathema to the nationalist, populist voters who put Trump in the White House. Last year, before he was inaugurated, none of Trump’s aides or Cabinet nominees attended the conference, except for Anthony Scaramucci. Incidentally, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has said Trump seeks to “advance his ‘America First’ agenda with world leaders” at the conference.