Sitting U.S. presidents don't normally go to the ritzy Davos conference in Switzerland, but this is Trump's second year.
Donald Trump has trashed relationships with the U.S.’s closest allies the past year, insulted foreign leaders, scorned decades-old alliances in overseas meetings, and undermined global regulatory bodies.
Nonetheless, he plans to travel to the World Economic Forum in Davos again this coming January to hobnob with some of the richest, most powerful people from around the world, including CEOs, philanthropists, heads of state, and royalty—the very globalists he disparages.
Trump will accompanied by a large administration contingent, including six cabinet members, dozens of officials and aides, and his daughter Ivanka, and U.S. taxpayers are on the hook for a hefty bill.
The final bill for the Trump administration’s Davos trip will almost certainly be far higher still, because there is often a lag of weeks or sometimes months between when the U.S. government spends money and then files spending records. Only nine travel expenditures related to WEF 2019 have been posted thus far; a total of 38 are posted on the federal government’s main public-facing spending database for Trump’s trip to Davos last January.
The costs also don’t include the estimated $2.2 million for the cost of flying Air Force One, the presidential aircraft, round trip between the U.S. and Zurich and the Marine One helicopter from Zurich to Davos, which Trump and his team took last year.
This is the second year in a row that Trump will attend. U.S. presidents had not regularly attended Davos before Trump: Ronald Reagan gave a speech via video, and George Bush, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama skipped the forum entirely. Bill Clinton didn’t attend until the last year of his presidency.
The tiny Swiss ski town, population 11,000, is overrun by thousands of WEF attendees and satellite delegates every January, and basic apartments can rent for $1,000 a night or more.
For this year’s meeting, the State Department has already obligated over $600,000 for accommodations at the Bernina House, a small apartment building situated about a mile from the Davos Congress Centre where the WEF meetings are held and nearly $142,000 for miscellaneous “staffing apartments.” An additional $1.5 million bill is tagged for “Housing WEF” at unspecified locations.
There are two charges at the adults-only Das Inn right in town that total $320,000, and a charge of nearly $230,000 for “POTUS Functional Space” at the Intercontinental Hotel, where Trump stayed last year. The Department of Transportation is spending $31,000on apartments for this year’s conference.
The government’s planned WEF hotel expenditures also include $115,000 listed as “staffing,”, $74,000 listed as “staffing mission,” and a $30,000 “USTR Lodging” charge at the Bad Ragaz, a 45 minute drive from Davos. The five-star Swiss resort with a historical pedigree features thermal indoor and outdoor spas:
This year, Trump and treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin, the official leader of the delegation, will be bringing along 10 administration officials including secretary of state Mike Pompeo, Small Business Administration head Linda McMahon, and secretary of commerce Wilbur Ross. White House advisors Ivanka Trump and husband Jared Kushner will also be there.
Despite his mocking of global elites on the campaign trail, Trump decided at the very last minute to attend the exclusive meeting his first year in office too. He wound up taking a large group then as well. He stayed overnight in Davos, and delivered a moribund speech backing off of the “fire and fury” nationalist rhetoric of U.S. political rallies.
He spent less taxpayer money, however. Government contracting documents reviewed by Quartz listed expenditures last year of over $1.8 million for lodging both in and around Davos, and at the Zurich airport Radisson Blu.