Donald Trump (Photo: Bloomberg)
Donald Trump (Photo: Bloomberg)

Donald Trump’s day out in Davos: Musk, Boeing and trade

  • Trump had breakfast with American business executives, including Apple Inc.’s Tim Cook
  • Trump reiterated his criticism of Federal Reserve policy, saying the central bank 'brought up the rate too fast, and they didn’t drop it fast enough'

US President Donald Trump on Wednesday heaped praise on Tesla Inc. chief executive officer Elon Musk as “one of our great geniuses" but said he’s disappointed in Boeing Co. over its woes around the 737 Max aircraft.

“I was worried about him, because he’s one of our great geniuses, and we have to protect our genius," Trump said of Musk in a CNBC interview. “You know, we have to protect Thomas Edison and we have to protect all of these people that came up with originally the light bulb and the wheel and all of these things."

On Boeing, he said: “Very disappointing company. This is one of the great companies of the world, let’s say as of a year ago, and then all of a sudden things happen. I am so disappointed in Boeing—had a tremendous impact."

Trump had breakfast with American business executives, including Apple Inc.’s Tim Cook. The US leader, whose impeachment trial began on Tuesday, also held talks with the presidents of Kurdistan and Iraq and then gave a news conference before heading to Zurich for his flight back to the US.

“It’s such a hoax," Trump said of the impeachment case against him. “I think it’s so bad for our country."

Trump lashed out at his accusers in the Senate impeachment trial on Wednesday but broke with some of his defenders as he reiterated his preference for witnesses to be called in the proceedings.

Trump said some potential witnesses in the impeachment trial would raise “national security" concerns but the Senate will decide whether any of them will testify.

Trump would “love" for his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, and secretary of state Michael Pompeo to testify, he told a news conference. But he said Mulvaney has already “expressed himself very well" in a Fox News interview and that Pompeo presents “a national security problem."

“He knows some of my thoughts" on foreign leaders, Trump said, expressing concern his views might become public in the trial.

Trump gave his legal team high marks after more than 12 hours of arguments on procedural motions Tuesday in which Republicans blocked Democratic efforts to immediately call witnesses and subpoena documents.

“I thought our team did a very good job," Trump said, saying he watched some of the proceedings. He praised White House Counsel Pat Cipollone’s "emotion" on the Senate floor, adding, “I was very proud of the job he did."

Trump reiterated his criticism of Federal Reserve policy, saying the central bank “brought up the rate too fast, and they didn’t drop it fast enough."

“I want this dollar to be strong. I want it to be so powerful. I want it to be great. But if you lower the interest rates, so many good things would happen," he told CNBC.

“We have a very strong dollar, and that sounds good, and it is good in many ways, but it’s very bad in terms of manufacturing," he added.

Trump put European leaders on notice, threatening punitive action against transatlantic allies if they aren’t willing to compromise on a trade deal before the US elections.

Trump renewed claims that the European Union is unfair to the U.S. and saying that he targeted China first in his trade war because the EU is harder to deal with.

“They have trade barriers where you can’t trade, they have tariffs all over the place, they make it impossible," Trump said. “They are frankly more difficult to do business with than China." Trump has threatened to impose tariffs on European auto exports and has already hit $7.5 billion of EU exports with levies over an airline dispute.

Trump invited World Trade Organization director-general Roberto Azevedo to appear at his news conference and announced that they plan to discuss reforms to the international commerce body in coming weeks.

“The World Trade Organization has been unfair to the United States for many, many years," Trump said. “We’re going to do something that I think will be very dramatic."

The US leader dismissed worries about a possible pandemic from a a new respiratory virus in China: “It’s one person coming in from China, and we have it under control," he said. “It’s going to be just fine."

The US and China are discussing human rights in Hong Kong as part of negotiations for a phase-two trade deal, Trump said.

“We are discussing that already," Trump says when asked about the role of human rights in the talks. “Phase one is done, phase two is being discussed."

Trump said Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg should focus on the most-polluting countries and that the US is “clean and beautiful."

“We want to have the cleanest water on Earth, we want to have the cleanest air on Earth," Trump told a news conference.

“We have to do something about other continents, we have to do something about other countries," he added. “When we’re clean and beautiful and everything’s good but 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."

AP contributed to this story.

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