DAVOS, Switzerland (AP) – President Donald Trump said he planned to offer a “positive message” at the World Economic Forum Friday, predicting it would be “very well received.”
Trump was set to address the Swiss Alps summit frequented by political and business elites. The gathering had viewed Trump with skepticism, given his “America First” message, but the White House has insisted that his protectionist policies and international cooperation can go hand-in-hand.
While interest in the president’s remarks has been keen, the moment was shadowed by a report in The New York Times that he had ordered the firing of special counsel Robert Mueller last June, but backed off after White House lawyer Don McGahn threatened to resign.
Asked about the report as he entered the conference center, Trump said: “Fake news, folks. Fake news. Typical New York Times fake stories.”
The first sitting president to attend Davos since Bill Clinton in 2000, Trump was expected to use his speech to tout his economic agenda and argue America is open for business. He’ll also stress his commitment to free markets under what he sees as fair terms.
Trump used his time at the summit to meet with world leaders, attend a reception in his honor and host business executives at a dinner. On his way in Friday he declared that his visit had been a success, adding: “We have a tremendous crowd and a crowd like they’ve never had before.”
Trump sought earlier Friday to ease tensions with a key African leader, meeting with Rwandan President Paul Kagame and calling him a “friend” in the aftermath of his controversial comments about African countries.
The meeting came after Trump drew widespread condemnation for allegedly referring to African nations as “shithole countries” in discussing immigration, according to those at the meeting. The president has denied using that language. Others present say he did.
And a day after Trump sought to make nice with British Prime Minister Theresa May, he said in a new interview that he “would certainly apologize” for retweeting anti-Muslim videos from a far-right British group.
Trump told British journalist Piers Morgan that “I know nothing about” the Britain First group and “would certainly apologize, if you’d like me to do that.” A clip of the interview was released Friday, with the full interview scheduled to air Sunday on ITV.