- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 15, 2019

President Trump is sending a scaled-down delegation to the swanky annual economic conference in Davos, Switzerland, next week due to the partial government shutdown.

The White House said Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin will lead the delegation, which includes Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Commerce Secretary Wilbur L. Ross Jr., U.S. Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer and Deputy White House Chief of Staff Chris Liddell.

The administration had planned to send about a dozen officials to the conference. Officials who are no longer flying to Davos include Labor Secretary Alex Acosta, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, Small Business Administrator Linda McMahon and presidential advisers Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump.

The president, Mr. Kushner and Ms. Nielsen, in particular, are involved in negotiations with Congress over border wall funding in an effort to end the shutdown.

Mr. Pompeo and Mr. Mnuchin are expected to speak at the opening of the conference instead of Mr. Trump.

The World Economic Forum runs from Jan. 22 to Jan. 26 at the high-end Alpine resort of Davos. The president decided last week not to attend the conference due to the shutdown, which will reach a record 26th day on Wednesday.

Among the 37 heads of state expected to attend are German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. About 3,000 people will attend.

Mr. Trump did attend the elite conference last year, and was greeted like a rock star at the gathering, where ultra-wealthy celebrities mingle with actual rock stars, world leaders and business executives. The president schmoozed with corporate titans, drummed up investment in the U.S. and departed to general acclaim for his economic policies and views.

This year, it was hoped that Mr. Trump would meet with a top Chinese official at Davos as the U.S. and China try to complete negotiations on a comprehensive trade deal that would avert the reimposition of retaliatory tariffs on a broad range of imports.

The president also might have bumped into billionaire George Soros, one of his fiercest critics, who is expected to attend.

The price tag for attendance at the forum is steep. General membership in the WEF costs $50,000; corporations must pay about $600,000 for five representatives to gain access to all areas of the conference.

In recent years, parties hosted by China’s richest man, Jack Ma, and Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska have been sought-after invitations at Davos.

• Dave Boyer can be reached at dboyer@washingtontimes.com.

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