Senior White House officials denied that President Donald Trump is withdrawing the United States from the worldwide trade scene on the eve of his departure for a major global economic forum.
“The U.S. is pulling back from nothing,” said Gary Cohn, chief White House economic adviser when asked about worries around the globe that the Trump administration is turning inward.
Trump is leaving Wednesday evening for the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland, not to deliver a message about nationalism but to urge world and business leaders to invest in the United States and to hire American workers, Cohn said during Tuesday’s White House press briefing.
“‘America first’ does not mean America alone,” he replied when asked if the president’s nationalist philosophy might fly in the face of the group’s globalist goals. He pointed to the president’s Asia swing last year, arguing Trump talked to regional players there about his willingness to negotiate bilateral trade pacts.
Cohn defended Trump’s trade philosophy, saying it is not meant to move the United States away from other countries, but to “drive economic growth and drive prosperity and drive a better quality of life for the American people.”
The White House has been peppered with questions about Trump’s participation in the globalist affairs given that he ran as a nationalist candidate. Notably, the forum will hold a dinner in Trump’s honor on Thursday night.
Earlier in the day, Trump — unprompted by reporters during an event in the Oval Office — predicted “there won’t be a trade war” due to his policies. That event was for him to sign actions slapping tariffs on washing machines and solar panels.
Cohn never directly said the price of washing machines would not increase as a result, instead saying U.S. domestic production was about to increase and defending the actions as the result of a “very rigorous process.”
The president also will hold a number of one-on-one meetings with other world leaders on the sidelines of the two-day meeting of global leaders and corporate executives.
Among them will be ones about Iran and “ways to achieve last peace” in the region, Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, Trump’s national security adviser, told reporters.
Among those in the official U.S. delegation will be Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, White House Homeland Security adviser Tom Bossert and Trump’s son-in-law and White House adviser Jared Kushner.
Cohn and McMaster will be among the White House staff also tagging along, as will White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
The White House has yet to release a list of lawmakers attending the forum. A White House spokesman said such a list is not available.