DAVOS, Switzerland (CN) – President Donald Trump gave a surprise press conference Wednesday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, where he again called the impeachment trial a hoax while touting his economic record and ability to negotiate trade deals.
“They have no case. It’s a con job,” the president said, directing the bulk of his ire toward California Congressman Adam Schiff, a Democratic impeachment manager.
“He makes up statements,” Trump added. “These are corrupt people.”
Trump said he would be open to witnesses like John Bolton, the former national security adviser, testifying in the trial but said important national security elements are at stake.
“He knows my thoughts on certain people in other governments and he knows my thoughts on trade deals and war and peace and all of the other things we talk about,” he said.
The president said the same principle applies to other current and former members of his administration, like Mike Pompeo, Mick Mulvaney and Rick Perry.
“I’d like to go the long way but it’s bad for our country,” Trump said, adding he feels it is important to defer to the Senate on matters related to the trial.
He further joked about attending the trial once he returns to Washington after his brief two-day appearance in Switzerland.
“I’d like to sit in the front row and look right up at their corrupt faces,” he said.
While the question and answer session focused on impeachment, the president tackled a wide range of subjects including the American economy, World Trade Organization reform and the specter of another trade war — this time with Europe.
“Europe is actually more difficult to do business with than China,” Trump said.
That statement, more than anything else said by the president, sent ripples through Davos, with many of the leaders assembled there worried over whether a tussle between the United States and Europe could destabilize the global economy.
But Trump said he predicted a deal before November, when he is up for reelection barring an unexpected vote by the Senate to remove him from office.
The president seemed unfazed by the impeachment trial, confident he would survive and continue to represent the country in international trade disputes.
One such dispute relates to the World Trade Organization, which is the arbiter of international trade.
Trump has long railed against the WTO, saying it slants the playing field away from the United States and towards China and India, which are still categorized as developing countries.
“They’ve gotten tremendous advantages because they were considered developing,” Trump said. “If they’re developing, we are.”
WTO Chief Robert Acevedo attended the press conference and vowed to take up Trump’s concerns.
“If the WTO is to deliver and perform its role in the modern economy, it has to be updated,” Acevedo said. “It has to be changed, it has to be reformed.”
The president also tackled the issue of climate change, a prominent topic at the 50th incarnation of the World Economic Forum.
On Tuesday, when Trump delivered the keynote address, he was preceded by Greta Thunberg, the climate activist who accused world leaders of not doing enough to confront the problem.
When asked about Thunberg’s assertions, Trump asked her age and then said: “She beat me out for Time magazine.” It’s a reference to Thunberg, 17, being named Time’s person of the year for 2019.
But Trump backed off past assertions that climate change is a hoax, saying Wednesday only elements of the climate change movement are a sham.
“They want to take it to a point where you can’t live your lives,” he said of climate activists.
The president spent most of the first part of the press conference reiterating points from Tuesday’s speech about the strength of the American economy, which at times read more like a stump speech than an international address.
“We’re an economic powerhouse like we’ve never been,” Trump said.
While his economic message was generally well-received in Davos, the president returns Wednesday to a bitterly divided country and an impeachment trial that is poised to further exacerbate the strident polarization among the American electorate.