An activist wearing a Donald Trump mask holds a placard as he takes part in a gathering in Landcourt on December 19 called by climate activists prior to the start of a march to Davos ahead of the World Economic Forum. Photo: AFP / Fabrice Coffrini

Far from feeling the heat, President Donald Trump will be chilling in Davos, a fancy Swiss ski resort, when the Senate hears opening arguments in his impeachment trial this week.

Trump is so confident that his Republican party majority will stay loyal that he sees no risk in jetting to Switzerland for the annual World Economic Forum on Tuesday, right as lawmakers convene for the historic trial.

“I’m going to be going to Davos. I’ll be meeting the biggest business leaders in the world, getting them to come here. I’ll also be meeting with foreign leaders,” Trump told reporters at the White House as his trial formally began on Thursday.

The contrast in settings will be extreme.

In Washington, Democratic lawmakers will argue that Trump is a corrupt leader who abused his power by trying to strong-arm Ukraine into a fake investigation aimed at tarnishing a top election rival, Joe Biden. They’ll call for his removal from office.

More than 4,200 miles (nearly 6,800 km) away, Trump will swagger through Davos as the forum’s unquestioned star.

Davos is where the world’s movers and shakers gather each year for informal discussions on weighty issues. Detractors call it a talking shop for out-of-touch billionaires and celebrities, and this year most major international leaders are staying away.

The field will be clear for Trump to do what he does best – tout his achievements and suck up the attention.

“We are booming,” he said. “There’s nothing even close.”

“Every world leader sees me and says ‘What have you done? This is the most incredible thing that we’ve ever seen.’”

Although the 2020 Davos theme is climate emergency, complete with an appearance by teenage activist Greta Thunberg, Trump has little belief in global warming.

He’ll push his own agenda.

He’ll “take on the perils of socialism,” top advisor Kellyanne Conway told reporters Thursday.

“He’ll continue to talk about the stock market, getting NATO members to pay up to provide for the common security, and also talk about the global economy.”

Republican loyalty

Not so long ago, Trump might have been more nervous about leaving his fate in the hands of Republican lawmakers.

The upstart businessman shocked the Republican establishment when he sought the 2016 nomination.

Mitt Romney, the unsuccessful Republican nominee from 2012, dismissed the real estate tycoon and TV show performer as having “a character and temperament unfit for the leader of the free world.”

Another senator, Mark Kirk, branded candidate Trump a “malignant clown.”

What a difference three years in the White House make.

Today Trump is the undisputed king of the Republican Party.

Moderate old timers in the mold of Romney or the Bush political dynasty are marginalized. Fiercely partisan, fiercely loyal Trump acolytes are the norm.

Behind the scenes, Republican lawmakers sometimes express distaste for the president’s style or frustration at his policies, but in public they march in lockstep – and no one more so than Senate leader Mitch McConnell.

Whatever McConnell and the rest of the party think privately, polls indicating watertight Republican voter support for Trump give them no margin for maneuver in the impeachment trial – unless they want to risk losing their own jobs.

The country at large is split evenly on whether Trump should be thrown out of office, but under 10 percent of Republicans want that to happen.

There’s little doubt that McConnell, the iron leader of the 100-seat upper chamber, will be able to keep his majority of 53 in line for Trump.

“What he wants, he’s going to get,” Conway said. “To be acquitted and exonerated and not convicted, not removed from office – and re-elected.”


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