Trump lauds U.S. economy in Davos, while Thunberg slams elites

Trump careful to keep away from climate change to avoid getting booed, economist says

U.S. President Donald Trump, centre, arrives in Davos, Switzerland on Marine One, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

U.S. President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he’s led a “spectacular” turnaround of the U.S. economy and urged the world to invest in America, but had less to say about climate change issues that are a focus of this year’s gathering of top business and political leaders in the Swiss Alps.

Trump kept to his speech script and did not mention the historic impeachment trial that was set to reconvene in the U.S. Senate in Washington later Tuesday. But he couldn’t resist when asked about the trial by the hordes of reporters covering the World Economic Form in Davos.

“It’s disgraceful,” Trump said of the proceeding.

Trump’s two-day visit is a test of his ability to balance his anger over being impeached with a desire to project leadership on the world stage.

He reminded the audience that when he spoke here in 2018, “I told you that we had launched the great American comeback.”

“Today, I’m proud to declare the United States is in the midst of an economic boom, the likes of which the world has never seen before,” the president said.

American economist Kenneth Rogoff took issue with Trump’s comments, saying some of Trump’s claims about the strength of the U.S. economy are true. But Rogoff noted that the economy wasn’t doing badly when Trump took office. “It’s been a good 10 years and his three years probably better than expected,” Rogoff said, adding that he thought Trump was careful to keep his comments about climate change to a minimum to avoid getting booed.

Climate issues are a main theme at the forum and the phrase “Act on Climate” was written in the snow at the landing zone where Trump’s Marine One helicopter set down in Davos.

Late last year, the Trump administration began pulling the U.S. out of the landmark 2015 Paris climate agreement under which nearly 200 nations set goals to curb emissions of heat-trapping gasses that lead to climate change. Trump has called the Paris accord an unfair economic burden to the U.S. economy.

Trump’s speech was met with virtual silence by the audience, apart from a brief flurry of applause when Trump said the U.S. would join a World Economic Forum initiative to plant 1 trillion trees worldwide.

Climate activist Greta Thunberg, who has been criticized by Trump, said world and business leaders aren’t taking the threat of global warming seriously.

“Planting trees is good of course, but it’s nowhere near enough,” Thunberg said.

Trump’s participation at the forum provided another conspicuous split-screen moment in his presidency. Before entering the hall to deliver his speech, Trump called the trial “disgraceful” and part of “the witch hunt that’s been going on for years.”

Asked whether Trump would tune in to the impeachment trial, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in an email that Trump has a “full day” in Davos “but will be briefed by staff periodically.”

READ MORE: What to watch as Trump impeachment trial takes off

The Associated Press

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