Jan 8, 2019

Big Trump contingent set for Davos amid shutdown

Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images

Eight members of President Trump's Cabinet, including Trump himself, are currently scheduled to attend the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, later this month, according to a source with direct knowledge.

Between the lines: The number may shrink if the government shutdown continues, as some officials seem to be aware it won't be a great look for the Trump Cabinet to be seen socializing with plutocrats and global elites while federal workers are furloughed and programs for vulnerable Americans are threatened.

Behind the scenes: The Cabinet officials who are currently set to attend this year’s forum include Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Small Business Administrator Linda McMahon, DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

  • Axios contacted the White House and the offices of all the Cabinet officials scheduled to attend the Davos conference; none would comment on the record.
  • A second source familiar with the administration’s Davos plans told Axios that if the shutdown continues, it would probably mean some Cabinet officials on the list would stay home. Mnuchin, who is leading the delegation, may still attend with several other senior officials, the source said. (As the administration's top economic official, his attendance is expected.)

Previous administrations have sent equally large delegations to Davos. In 2016, the Obama administration sent Vice President Joe Biden and seven Cabinet-rank officials to the elite gathering, according to the WEF’s 2016 agenda.

The bottom line: Davos is an efficient way to meet with the world's most powerful people — a rare moment when so many are in one place — but in this populist era, politicians are increasingly being asked to justify their attendance. That's especially so for officials who represent a billionaire president who has sought to cast himself as a populist outsider.

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 1,014,673 — Total deaths: 52,973 — Total recoveries: 210,335Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 244,678 — Total deaths: 5,911 — Total recoveries: 9,058Map.
  3. 2020 updates: The Democratic National Committee said its July convention will be postponed until August because of the coronavirus. A federal judge declined to delay Wisconsin's April 7 primary election.
  4. Jobs latest: Coronavirus unemployment numbers are like a natural disaster hitting every state.
  5. Public health latest: Anthony Fauci called for all states across the U.S. to issue stay-at-home orders. The FDA will allow blood donations from gay men after 3-month waiting period, citing "urgent need."
  6. Business latest: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said oil companies are eligible for aid from new lending programs the Federal Reserve is setting up, but not direct loans from his department.
  7. U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt: Navy removes captain of aircraft carrier who sounded alarm about coronavirus.
  8. 1 future thing: In developing countries, consequences of COVID-19 could be deeper and far more difficult to recover from.
  9. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  10. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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Photos: Alyssa Farah, Defense Department; Stephanie Grisham, Alex Wong/Getty Images; Kayleigh McEnany, Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows has privately discussed bringing on Pentagon spokesperson Alyssa Farah or Trump campaign spokesperson Kayleigh McEnany as a new White House press secretary, two sources familiar with the talks tell Axios.

Why it matters: Meadows' start on Tuesday as Trump's new chief presents a chance to overhaul a press shop that's kept a low profile since President Trump ended the tradition of daily press secretary briefings.

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Why it matters: The recommendation stands in contrast to President Trump's calls for "flexibility." Nearly 4o states have issued stay-at-home orders to promote social distancing as a way to combat the novel coronavirus — but the orders vary in strictness and duration.

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