Davos-goers eagerly await Trump’s speech
Participants at the World Economic Forum have begun heading home on their private jets, but there is still plenty of anticipation about Mr. Trump’s speech.
The president wasted no time trying to generate some buzz of his own as he made his way through the Congress Center into a meeting with President Paul Kagame of Rwanda. The group of international business tycoons and heads of state that has gathered for this annual meeting in the Swiss Alps is a “crowd like they have never had before at Davos,” Mr. Trump told a group of reporters. “Including all of you people like they’ve never had before. So that’s good. —ELISABETH BUMILLER
One of them, almost.
By any measure, he made a lot of money, the kid from Queens. Maybe not as much as he boasted, but a fortune. And yet never accepted, never respected, Donald J. Trump remained on the outside pressing his nose against the window of the club of elites he both revered and resented.
So when he arrives as president in this snowy, mountaintop resort where financial titans mingle with heads of state in an annual Saturnalia of capitalism, it may feel like a moment of vindication. Never invited when he was merely a businessman, Mr. Trump arrived as leader of the world’s last superpower, commanding attention if not admiration. Whatever else, he cannot be ignored now.
“Part of him will feel the resentment that has long smoldered within and part will revel in the fact that he’s the president and no one else is,” said Michael D’Antonio, a Trump biographer. “Considering his tendency to say or tweet whatever comes to mind, we might expect both Trumps — the testy one and the triumphant one — to appear. We may even see and hear him toggle between the two, uncertain if he’s superior or inferior.”
Mr. Trump’s decision to attend the World Economic Forum, something American presidents generally avoid lest they look out of touch hanging out with global elites, sets the stage for one of the most intriguing encounters of his year-old presidency. Not only will he finally crash the party that would not have him, but he will also bring his protectionist, “America First” message to the very people he has cast as the villains of his political narrative.
Indeed, Gary D. Cohn, Jared Kushner and much of President Trump’s cabinet mingled with tech executives late into the night during a Hawaii-themed party thrown by Salesforce. Mr. Cohn declined to comment, other than to say that the speech would be great for America and that “I wrote it.” — PETER BAKER & REBECCA BLUMENSTEIN
Mending fences? Not with everyone.
The president expressed regret for sharing anti-Muslim videos originally posted by an ultranationalist fringe group in Britain, but he made no apology on Friday for calling African nations “shithole countries,” or some variant of that phrase.
Mr. Trump said that when he retweeted the videos, which portrayed Muslims as violent attackers, he knew nothing about Britain First, the group that had originally posted them.
“If you are telling me they’re horrible people, horrible, racist people, I would certainly apologize, if you’d like me to do that,” Mr. Trump told Piers Morgan of the British broadcaster ITV, in an interview scheduled to air on Sunday.
“I am often the least racist person that anybody is going to meet,” he added.
The rare expression of repentance — one of Mr. Trump’s rules is “never apologize” — came as the president sought to patch up a badly strained relationship with Britain. Prime Minister Theresa May said at the time that it was “wrong” for Mr. Trump to promote the videos, at least one of which mischaracterized the episode it purported to show. The president canceled a planned trip to London amid expectations of widespread protests.
Mr. Trump and Mrs. May met on Thursday on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum, saying that reports of a rift were a “false rumor” and that he was talking about rescheduling the trip.
But Mr. Trump’s contrition and efforts at fence-mending went only so far, as he ignored reporters’ questions on Friday about his derogatory remarks about African countries this month. During a meeting with lawmakers, the president had said he thought the United States should accept more immigrants from countries like Norway, rather than Haiti or “shithole countries” in Africa, according to multiple reports. Mr. Trump has disputed the reports and some have suggested that he actually said “shithouse countries.”
After the “shithole” remark was made public, Paul Kagame, president of Rwanda and chairman of the African Union, issued a statement demanding a retraction and “an apology to not only the Africans but to all people of African descent around the globe.”
Mr. Trump and Mr. Kagame met on Friday, shortly before Mr. Trump’s scheduled address to the World Economic Forum.
Mr. Kagame said that he had “good discussions” with Mr. Trump about the economy and trade, and he thanked Mr. Trump for his support. But the Rwandan leader made no mention of the furor over the comments. —PETER BAKER
What else is happening?
• President Emmanuel Macron of France, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni of Italy issued forceful speeches toward advancing European integration, while defending the notion of international cooperation. Collectively, they signaled that Europe — only a year ago dismissed as a crippled economic realm fraught with political recrimination — has regained force. — PETER S. GOODMAN
• The header photograph on the Twitter page of President Alain Berset of Switzerland showed graffiti that said, in English, “Diversity is Power.” But Mr. Berset was quick to bat aside a question on Friday about whether the picture was a dig at Mr. Trump’s stance on immigration. Mr. Berset said that the photographs were chosen on Jan. 1, and that the header was intended to celebrate the diversity of Switzerland, including four languages. He had not thought, he said, “on the first of January this year that Mr. Trump would be present in Davos this year.” —KEITH BRADSHER