Trump Team Shunning Davos Meeting of World’s Economic EliteBy
President-elect said to view attending as betrayal of populism
Newly-named adviser Scaramucci on the agenda at Swiss forum
Donald Trump won’t send an official representative to the annual gathering of the world’s economic elite in Davos, taking place next week in the days leading up to his inauguration, although one of the president-elect’s advisers is slated to attend.
Former Goldman Sachs President Gary Cohn, a regular attendee in the past, told the group he would skip 2017 after being named in December to head the National Economic Council, said people familiar with the conference. Other top Trump appointees will also pass up the forum.
A senior member of Trump’s transition team said the president-elect thought it would betray his populist-fueled movement to have a presence at the high-powered annual gathering in the Swiss Alps. The gathering of millionaires, billionaires, political leaders and celebrities represents the power structure that fueled the populist anger that helped Trump win the election, said the person, who asked for anonymity to discuss the matter.
Hedge fund manager Anthony Scaramucci is planning to travel to Davos, though. The founder of SkyBridge Capital and an early backer of Trump’s campaign, Scaramucci was named on Thursday as an assistant to the president.
Scaramucci, who has attended the forum several times, made plans before being selected for the White House team and is traveling in an unofficial capacity, said Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks. The forum schedule lists him on a Jan. 17 panel that will cover “the priorities, challenges and opportunities for the incoming government of the United States,” and identifies him as an executive member of Trump’s transition team.
“Anthony Scaramucci has been a long-standing participant at the annual meeting, and as such has been registered to attend since last spring,” Paul Smyke, head of the North America World Economic Forum, said in a statement. Scaramucci will depart in time to attend Trump’s swearing-in on Jan. 20.
Political adviser Rebekah Mercer is also registered to attend. A major Republican donor, Mercer is a member of Trump’s transition team and has been influential in helping to hire senior staff, but doesn’t have an official role in the incoming administration.
During the campaign Trump labeled his opponent, Democrat Hillary Clinton, as “a globalist” and portrayed himself as a champion for the working class fighting an unfair economic system. Since the election, Trump, who will be the nation’s first billionaire president, has nominated for his Cabinet two billionaires and about a dozen millionaires.
Many in the upper ranks of his administration are from the world of finance, including several who have worked for or who have ties to Goldman Sachs, the investment bank singled out for criticism during the Republican’s campaign.
A study by the World Economic Forum released ahead of the Davos gathering concluded that the weak economic recovery following the global financial crisis of 2008-09 has widened the gap between rich and poor, fueling a sense of “economic malaise” that’s led to the rise of populist parties.
While the Trump team stays away, Xi Jinping is set to become the first Chinese president to attend the forum, bringing with him a contingent of China’s wealthiest executives. China is casting itself as an advocate of globalization, in contrast to Trump’s “America First” platform critical of free-trade deals.
Xi will join about 3,000 others, who will include U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May, outgoing U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and South African President Jacob Zuma. Past attendees include singer and philanthropist Bono of U2, and actor Leonardo DiCaprio. The forum wraps up on Trump’s Inauguration Day.
World Economic Forum founder Klaus Schwab met with members of Trump’s staff in December.
For more on Davos, see our special report on the World Economic Forum 2017.