JUDY WOODRUFF: While the impeachment trial
dominates the spotlight in Washington, the president turns his focus to touting the American
economy. He flew to Europe for the annual meeting of
the world’s business and economic elite. “NewsHour” special correspondent Ryan Chilcote
reports from Davos, Switzerland. RYAN CHILCOTE: High in the Alps and 10 months
away from the election, the president took his campaign to Davos, Switzerland. QUESTION: Mr. President, with your trial now
getting under way, why is it better to be here in Davos than in Washington, D.C.? DONALD TRUMP, President of the United States:
Well, we’re here meeting with world leaders, the biggest, most important people in the
world. And we’re bringing back tremendous business
to the United States. And they’re all here to see. The other is just a hoax. It’s the
witch-hunt that has been going on for years. And it’s — frankly, it’s disgraceful. But we look forward to being here. RYAN CHILCOTE: President Trump addressed just
over 1,000 of the World Economic Forum’s delegates. DONALD TRUMP: When I spoke at this forum two
years ago, I told you that we had launched the great American comeback. Today, I’m proud
to declare that the United States is in the midst of an economic boom the likes of which
the world has never seen before. RYAN CHILCOTE: Mr. Trump spent most of his
speech touting his administration’s economic achievements, arguing they’re bring about
a blue-collar revolution. DONALD TRUMP: In just three years in my administration,
3.5 million people have joined the work force; 10 million people have been lifted off welfare
in less than three years. RYAN CHILCOTE: Before the president arrived
today, news crews were already on the prowl, but not for him. Making her second appearance at the World
Economic Forum, Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg stole some of the limelight today,
warning participants, not much has changed since she addressed them last year. GRETA THUNBERG, Climate Activist: Our house
is still on fire. Your inaction is fueling the flames by the hour. And we are telling
you to act as if you loved your children above all else. RYAN CHILCOTE: In his speech, President Trump
appeared to take aim at the 17-year-old. DONALD TRUMP: To embrace the possibilities
of tomorrow, we must reject the perennial prophets of doom and their predictions of
the apocalypse. RYAN CHILCOTE: This is the 50th year the world’s
rich and powerful have gathered for the World Economic Forum in Davos. Most of them, by
definition, are globalists, supporters of free trade. Today, the president met and discussed trade
with three of them from Pakistan, Switzerland and the European Union, with whom the president
said he’s confident he can strike another deal. If he doesn’t, he said he will look at slapping
tariffs on European cars. DONALD TRUMP: We expect to be able to make
a deal with Europe. The European Union, we met with, as you know.
And we had a very good talk. But if we’re unable to make a deal, we will have to do
something, because we have been treated very badly as a country for many, many years on
trade. RYAN CHILCOTE: The United States’ trade truce
with China last week relieved many here, but they find the prospect of more trade wars
unsettling. Some, like Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph
Stiglitz, also disagreed with the president’s portrayal of the economy. JOSEPH STIGLITZ, Professor of Economics, Columbia
University: While the unemployment rate is low, the employment rate, the fraction of
the working age population that is actually working, is much lower than here in Europe. So, the mischaracterization of the state of
the American economy and how well the typical American is doing was very strong, stark.
And given all that, it’s not a surprise. I have been going to Davos for 25 years. This
was the most lukewarm reception to a major public figure that I have ever seen. RYAN CHILCOTE: And in an unusual twist today,
a local newspaper reported, Swiss officials had uncovered an apparent spying operation
by two Russians posing as plumbers in Davos, who they suspect intended to bug the forum.
Russia called the allegations absurd. When the president returns to the World Economic
Forum tomorrow, reminders of his troubles back home won’t be far away. Ukraine’s President
Volodymyr Zelensky, who the president is accused of trying to pressure into providing dirt
on former Vice President and presidential candidate Joe Biden, will also be here. Ryan Chilcote, for the “PBS NewsHour,” in
Davos, Switzerland.

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