US President Donald Trump said he will skip the annual gathering of global financial elites in the Swiss ski resort town of Davos later this month if the partial government shutdown isn’t resolved by then. “If the shutdown continues,” Trump told reporters at the White House on Thursday, “I won’t go.”
The US delegation to the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting from January 22 to 25 in Switzerland is to include Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and US Trade Secretary Robert Lighthizer.
Mnuchin plans to attend the Davos conference with a smaller US delegation even if Trump decides not to go, according to a person familiar with the Treasury secretary’s plans.
The partial US government shutdown is in its 20th day, with no sign of an agreement. Trump walked out of a White House meeting with congressional Democrat leaders on Wednesday, calling it a “waste of time.”
The president wants Congress to approve $5.7 billion to help fulfill a campaign promise to build a wall along the US-Mexico border that he insists is necessary to stem illegal migration.
Trump also threatened to use emergency powers to bypass Congress and get the funds to pay for the border wall.
As he departed Washington for a trip to the Texas border with Mexico for wall-related events, Trump attacked the Democratic congressional leaders, who oppose his wall-funding demand, as less “honorable” than China, a rival power.
“I find China, frankly, in many ways to be far more honorable than crying Chuck and Nancy. I really do. I think that China is actually much easier to deal with than the opposition party,” Trump said, referring to House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer.
Trump said his lawyers had told him he had the power to invoke national emergency powers to get his wall funded, a course of action that Democrats have said may be illegal. "I have the absolute right to declare a national emergency," Trump told reporters. “I’m not prepared to do that yet, but if I have to, I will.”
If Congress fails to bend on the border wall funding, Trump said he probably would declare an emergency. “I would almost say definitely,” he said.