President Trump lashed out at congressional Democrats and the news media during a wide-ranging press conference before he left the World Economic Forum in Davos to return to Washington on Wednesday.
The closing press conference, which had not been on his original schedule, has become a staple of the president’s overseas trips, a coda to numerous bilateral meetings that offers him — and him alone — a final opportunity to shape the news cycle, although his remarks often distract from the central themes of the conference.
Trump blasted the impeachment case and claimed that national security concerns were preventing administration officials from testifying.
“It’s a total hoax, it’s a disgrace,” he said. “They had no case, it’s a con job.”
Trump has repeatedly directed administration officials to defy subpoenas for documents and testimony, but he said Wednesday that he would “love to have” them appear before Congress.
However, Trump said, “it’s a national security problem.” People such as John Bolton, the former national security advisor, know too much about sensitive issues involving foreign policy to let them speak freely on Capitol Hill, he said.
Trump described Democrats including Reps. Adam B. Schiff of Burbank and Jerrold Nadler of New York as “corrupt” and “sleazebags,” and he said his economic success had made them lose their minds.
“You know what’s driven them crazy? All of these record numbers.”
After boasting about economic gains and how “beautifully” he had been treated in Davos, Trump joked about another World Economic Forum attendee, the 17-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg, who he noted had earned an honor he covets: Time magazine’s person of the year recognition.
“She beat me out on Time magazine,” Trump said.
A day after decrying climate change activists as “perennial prophets of doom” in a speech, Trump said he “would have loved to have seen her speak.” And when asked if he thought climate change was a hoax, Trump responded: “No, not at all.”
But he recommended that Thunberg “start working on those other countries,” asserting that the United States, which withdrew from the Paris climate accord in 2017, is doing its part to combat climate change. “Our water numbers, our numbers on air, are tremendous,” he said.
“You have another continent where the fumes are rising at levels that you can’t believe... I think Greta ought to focus on those places.”
Trump was also asked why he has claimed that no Americans were affected by Iran’s retaliatory missile strikes following the U.S. operation that killed former Gen. Qassem Suleimani, given that 11 U.S. servicemen were airlifted with injuries.
“I heard that they had headaches and a couple of other things, but I would say and I can report it is not very serious,” Trump said. “I don’t consider them very serious injuries relative to other injuries that I’ve seen.”
During an interview with CNBC on Wednesday morning, Trump also suggested that he might be willing to make cuts to entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare to reduce the deficit, which has grown during his presidency as a result of the GOP tax reform package and additional government spending.
“At the right time, we will take a look at that,” Trump said. Those comments, however opaque, marked a sharp reversal from Trump’s position as a candidate in 2016, when he vowed to protect such programs.