Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney announced on Thursday that the United States will host next year’s Group of Seven (G-7) summit at Trump National Doral, a resort property owned by President Trump’s family.
“We used a lot of the same criteria used by past administrations,” Mulvaney told reporters, adding that it was almost as though the resort had been purpose-built for the event.
Out of all resorts, conference centers, gov. buildings available in United States, Mulvaney says Trump’s resort in Doral Florida is “the best physical facility” for this G-7 meeting in 2020. Decision made.
Oh, it even has an Ivanka Ballroom: pic.twitter.com/DwDn44tkoO
— Joyce Karam (@Joyce_Karam) October 17, 2019
The Trump administration’s decision to host the high-profile gathering of the leaders of the world’s biggest economies at Doral is guaranteed to trigger challenges from Democrats and ethics watchdog groups who will argue that the president is seeking to enrich his family’s brand by bringing world leaders to the Trump property.
Trump first made his interest in holding the summit at his private Miami resort known in August, while attending this year’s G-7 gathering in Biarritz, France.
“We haven’t found anything that could even come close to competing with it,” Trump told reporters.
He argued that the resort’s proximity to Miami International Airport, abundant parking and private cabanas made it an ideal venue host each country’s delegation.
“It’s got tremendous acreage, many hundreds of acres, so we can handle whatever happens,” Trump said at the time.
Critics argued earlier this year that the selection would be a clear violation of the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, which prohibits presidents from accepting payments from foreign countries, U.S. states or the federal government.
Mulvaney told reporters on Thursday that he himself was initially skeptical of the idea, but said the event would be “dramatically cheaper” if held at Doral.
He also claimed that Trump “made it very clear” that he would not profit from having the resort host.
According to Trump’s financial disclosures, he earned $76 million in income from Doral in 2018. But in a sign of how the Trump brand has struggled since he became a political figure, that’s a substantial drop from the nearly $116 million the resort earned for him in 2016.
While Trump stepped away from running the Trump Organization before becoming president, he never gave up his stake in his various businesses, which include golf clubs, hotels and office buildings around the world. There are several lawsuits moving through the courts that allege that Trump is violating the emoluments clauses of the Constitution that bans the president from accepting gifts and payments from foreign and state governments.
Since Trump secured the GOP nomination in 2016, his properties have become favored places for Republicans to hold fundraising and political events. Federal Election Commission records indicate that Trump’s reelection campaign, GOP party committees and candidates have spent millions at Trump properties in 2019.
The United States last hosted the then-Group of Eight summit in 2012 at Camp David in Maryland.
The Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold noted on Thursday: The summit will be held in June, when Miami is hot and Doral is usually empty. In 2017, only 38% of Doral’s rooms were occupied in June. Only August (31%) was slower. Now — b/c @realdonaldtrump has awarded the summit to himself — it will be full.”
The summit will be held in June, when Miami is hot and Doral is usually empty.
In 2017, only 38% of Doral's rooms were occupied in June. Only August (31%) was slower.
— David Fahrenthold (@Fahrenthold) October 17, 2019
Washington Post columnist Brian Klaas slammed the move as “corruption.”
What’s that word for when a politician uses public office for private gain? Ah yes, “corruption.” https://t.co/ooM3XZlzF6
— Brian Klaas (@brianklaas) October 17, 2019