Trump goes to Switzerland with Senate trial to meet again

WASHINGTON – When President Donald Trump’s historic state court trial is called to order in the Senate this week, he will not be watching from inside the hall or on White House television.

He will be thousands of miles away at Davos Economic Forum in the Swiss Alps and try to charm global CEOs over dinner.

Trump’s participation in the annual World Economic Forum will provide an eye-catching split-screen moment in a presidency familiar with them. His two-day visit to Switzerland will test his ability to balance his anger over being sued with a desire to project leadership on the world stage.

Administration officials say Trump continues to focus on serving the public.

“The president’s work is not just stopping because of federal justice,” White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said in an email.

Trump, who is leaving Washington on Monday night, said he is going to Davos to encourage companies to invest in the United States

“We are now where the action is,” he said at a farmers’ convention Sunday in Texas.

When it came to what will be his second appearance at the annual Swiss Economic Forum, Trump was due to arrive at the ski resort early Tuesday and fly back Wednesday to a Washington that will be engulfed by the federal lawsuit.

The White House did not release much advance information about the president’s schedule, but he is expected to give a speech and meet world leaders and business leaders.

The Democratic-controlled House sued the Republican president last month for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress after it was revealed that he had pressured the President of Ukraine to announce investigations into former Democratic Vice President Joe Biden, a Trump political rival. Trump withheld foreign aid that Congress had approved for the Eastern European nation and dangled the prospect of an Oval Office meeting as leverage.

Trump denies any wrongdoing, claiming Democrats want to remove him from office because they know they can not deny him re-election in November. Trump would be forced to resign if convicted, but the Republican-controlled Senate is expected to acquit him.

Trump said he would attend the Davos forum despite the awkward timing because he wants to encourage companies to return to the United States

“Our country is the hottest country anywhere in the world,” he told the White House last week. “There is nothing nearby. I want to meet the greatest business leaders in the world and get them to come here.”

The White House has not said which presidents or prime ministers will have one-on-one sessions with Trump, but he is expected to have his first meeting with the new president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, the first woman to to hold the position.

That meeting could be the most significant, analyst Matt Goodman said, given Trump’s many disagreements with Europe over tax and trade policy, as a new digital tax from the French that will force American tech giants like Amazon and Google to pay.

“She’s new and she’s formidable,” said Goodman, who is studying international economic policy as a senior vice president at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

He predicted a difficult year ahead for US-EU relations.

“It can either go very well or very badly,” Goodman said.

Trump has burned over the French tax, and his administration has announced plans to impose retaliatory tariffs of up to 100% on cheese, wine, lipstick and other French imports. France has threatened to strike back.

The United States has also threatened to impose retaliation taxes on European aircraft, cheese, wine and other goods worth $ 7.5 billion in a separate dispute over subsidies to Airbus, a competitor to Chicago-based Boeing Co.

Trump has also sought to remove trade concessions from the EU by threatening tariffs on German cars, including BMW and Mercedes-Benz.

Trump is going to Switzerland as just the third US president, after Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton, to face a Senate trial. Johnson and Clinton were both acquitted by the Senate.

There is a precedent for international travel by a Supreme Court justice American leader.

During his trial over an affair with a White House intern, Clinton visited Japan, South Korea, Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Him too raised to Jordan for King Hussein’s funeral in February 1999, just days before he was acquitted by the Senate.

Two days after the acquittal, Clinton went to Mexico on a state visit.

Trump plans to pay his first visit to India in late February, likely after the end of his trial. He has also talked about traveler soon to Beijing, although he has not given any dates, to open a new round of trade negotiations with China.

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Follow Darlene Superville on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/dsupervilleap

Darlene Superville, Associated Press

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