After rising to political power by slamming global elites for neglecting the working class, Donald Trump is bringing one of the largest contingents ever to the annual summit held in Davos, Switzerland.
The exclusive meeting, organized by the World Economic Forum, has been a fundamental appointment for the who’s who of the global economy since it was funded by Swiss professor Klaus Schwab in 1971.
While many American business people and power figures have been regulars at the event, not all American presidents attend: Ronald Reagan only joined via video, and George Bush, George W Bush, and Barack Obama skipped the forum entirely. Bill Clinton, on the other hand, attended in 2000 for the 30th anniversary, and has been attending most years since.
But while it’s unsurprising for a globalization enthusiast such as Clinton to embrace Davos, it is more surprising for Trump, who, press secretary Sarah Sanders announced, will travel to Switzerland later this week with chief of staff John Kelly, national security advisor H.R. McMaster, and director of the national economic council Gary Cohn as well as some other White House staff.
The presidential group will be joining the official delegation, led by secretary of the treasury Steven Mnuchin, which will include six cabinet secretaries and several other officials including the president’s son-in-law Jared Kushner.
The rest of the delegation will comprise:
- Rex Tillerson, secretary of state
- Wilbur Ross, secretary of commerce
- Alex Acosta, secretary of labor
- Elaine Chao, secretary of transportation
- Rick Perry, secretary of energy
- Kristen Nielsen, secretary of homeland security
- Robert Lighthizer, US trade representative
- Thomas Bossert, assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism
- Mark Green, USAID administrator
- Scott Gottlieb, commissioner for food and drugs
Trump has never before been invited to the forum, an elitist event that often seems out of touch with reality.
Several Congress members are also attending the conference, and traveling separately from the presidential contingent. Bob Corker, the Republican senator from Tennessee who is retiring next year, planned his trip before the president announced he was going.
To counteract Trump’s America First message, some Democrats will be heading to Switzerland too.
“We’re trying to signal that the US still cares about leadership and internationalism,” a spokesman for Rep. Don Beyer, the Democrat from Virginia who was formerly the ambassador to Switzerland and Lichtenstein, told Quartz. “Ideally, we’d remind people that Donald Trump isn’t the only political leader and doesn’t represent everyone in the United States.”