Trump returns to Washington impeachment in triumphant spirits

2020-01-22 17:38
US President Donald Trump speaks during a press conference at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. (AFP)

US President Donald Trump speaks during a press conference at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. (AFP)

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President Donald Trump flew back to his Washington impeachment trial in triumphant spirits on Wednesday after turning the Davos forum into a victory tour for the US economy and scoffing at his Democratic opponents.

For two days, Trump was unstoppable as he ignored Davos's supposed focus on global warming and inequality. Barely mentioning climate crisis, he relentlessly touted US employment figures and GDP growth and bathed in the attention of CEOs and billionaires.

"Everybody is talking about America's unprecedented economic success. It's really the talk of the town," he crowed at a press conference organised at the last minute before departure, enabling him to give himself one more shout-out.

Wednesday morning was breakfast with a Who's Who of American CEOs - the bosses of companies like Morgan Stanley and Apple.

Tuesday evening it had been the turn of foreign corporate titans and the boss of world soccer body FIFA, Gianni Infantino, who declared Trump to be "made of the same sort of fibre" as elite athletes.

Then there was Trump's speech on Tuesday, given top billing by Davos's World Economic Forum for its 50th annual gathering in the Swiss mountain resort.

The hall was packed, the overflow rooms were packed, but Trump told them what he came to tell - not the message of global togetherness and environmental healing that many of them wanted to hear.

Mocking climate campaigners as "the heirs of yesterday's foolish fortune tellers", he instead delivered a rousing defence of fossil fuel industries and said that technical ingenuity could find a solution to any problem.

"The American dream is back, bigger, better, stronger than ever before," he said.

Scoffing at impeachment 

While the Davos crowd watched in adoration or, in many cases, consternation, Trump's real audience was back home in the US Senate and in the swing states like Wisconsin that will decide his fate in the November election.

The booming economy is the backbone of that reelection campaign, with history showing that an incumbent is hard to beat at a time of strong growth.

But more immediately, Trump was talking to the senators about to reconvene for a second day in his impeachment trial for abuse of office and obstruction.

Trump's Republican majority has made clear it will do almost anything to ensure his acquittal and with his roaring boasts of success in Davos he seemed to dare the Democrats to take him on.

Half jokingly, Trump even said he would "love" to walk into the Senate himself and observe the trial.

"I'd love to go. I'd sort of love (to) sit in the front row and stare in their corrupt faces," Trump said at the press conference.

Asked if he wanted the trial to be concluded as quickly as possible, with no witnesses allowed and no extra evidence released, Trump said "I would rather go the long way".

His lawyers and Republican chiefs are forcing the quick way, so that is highly unlikely to happen. But it was a measure of Trump's bravado that he claimed to want an exhaustive airing of the controversy to clear his name.

Trump is accused of trying to derail one of his main Democratic election rivals, Joe Biden, by manipulating US foreign aid to pressure Ukraine into digging up dirt on his son. Trump is accused of then blocking investigators with his flat-out refusal to cooperate over witnesses and much of the evidence.

Even if acquitted, he will forever bear the stigma of being only the third president in US history to face an impeachment trial.

At his press conference, Trump sounded incredulous that someone with the kind of success he was touting in Davos could even be accused of wrongdoing.

"All I do is honest. I make great deals. I make great deals for our country," he said. "I make great deals for our country and they're honest deals."

With that, Trump boarded the Marine One helicopter to lift over the Alps down to Zurich and a waiting Air Force One - and back to Washington.

Read more on:    donald trump  |  us
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