Trump heads to Switzerland with Senate trial to reunite

WASHINGTON – When President Donald Trump’s historic impeachment trial opens in the Senate this week, he will not be watching from inside the bedroom or on White House television.

He will be thousands of miles from the Davos Economic Forum in the Swiss Alps, trying to charm global CEOs over dinner.

Trump’s attendance at the annual World Economic Forum will provide a remarkable split-screen moment in a presidency that knows them. His two-day visit to Switzerland will test his ability to balance his anger at impeachment with the desire to project his leadership on the world stage.

Administration officials say Trump remains focused on serving the public.

“The president’s job doesn’t stop just because of the sham impeachment,” White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in an email.

Trump, who is leaving Washington on Monday evening, said he would travel to Davos to encourage companies to invest in the United States.

“We are now where the action is,” he said at a farmers’ convention Sunday in Texas.

Rushing for what will be his second appearance at the annual Swiss Economic Forum, Trump was due to arrive at the ski resort early Tuesday and return Wednesday to a Washington that will be consumed by the impeachment trial.

The White House hasn’t released much information in advance about the president’s agenda, but he is expected to deliver a speech and meet with world leaders and business leaders.

The Democratic-controlled House impeached the Republican president last month for abuse of power and obstructing Congress after it was revealed he had pressed the Ukrainian president to announce inquiries into the former Democrat. Vice president Joe Biden, a political rival to Trump. Trump withheld foreign aid Congress approved for the Eastern European nation and tossed the prospect of an Oval Office meeting as leverage.

Trump denies any wrongdoing and maintains that Democrats want to remove him from office because they know they cannot deny him his re-election in November. Trump would be forced to step down if convicted, but the Republican-controlled Senate would have to acquit him.

Trump has said he will attend the Davos Forum despite the difficult time because he wants to encourage companies to return to the United States.

“Our country is the hottest country in the world,” he told the White House last week. “There isn’t even anything close. I will meet with the greatest business leaders in the world to get them to come here. “

The White House has not said which presidents or prime ministers will have one-on-one talks with Trump, but he is expected to have his first meeting with the new President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, the first woman to hold the post. .

This meeting could be the most important, analyst Matt Goodman said, given Trump’s many disagreements with Europe over tax and trade policy, such as a new digital levy by the French that will force US tech giants such as Amazon and Google to pay.

“She’s new and she’s great,” said Goodman, who studies international economic policy as a senior. vice-president at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

He predicted a difficult year for US-EU relations.

“It could go very well or very badly,” Goodman said.

Trump has roughed up the French tax and his administration has announced plans to impose retaliatory tariffs of up to 100% on cheese, wine, lipstick and other French imports. France threatened to retaliate.

The United States has also threatened to impose retaliatory duties on European planes, cheese, wine and other goods worth $ 7.5 billion in a separate dispute over subsidies to Airbus, a competitor of Boeing Co.

Trump has also sought to wrest trade concessions from the EU by threatening tariffs on German automobiles, including BMW and Mercedes-Benz.

Trump is traveling to Switzerland as the third US president, after Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton, to face an impeachment trial in the Senate. Johnson and Clinton were both acquitted by the Senate.

There is precedent for the international travel of an impeached US leader.

During his impeachment for an affair with a White House intern, Clinton visited Japan, South Korea, Israel and the Palestinian Authority. He also has trip in Jordan for the funeral of King Hussein in February 1999, just days before his acquittal by the Senate.

Two days after the acquittal, Clinton traveled to Mexico for a state visit.

Trump plans to make his first visit to India at the end of February, likely after the conclusion of his impeachment trial. He also spoke of traveling soon to Beijing, although he gave no date, to open a new round of trade talks with China.


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Darlene Superville, The Associated Press

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