President Trump has awarded the 2020 Group of Seven summit of world leaders to his private company, scheduling the summit for June at his Trump Doral golf resort outside Miami, the White House announced Thursday.
That decision is without precedent in modern American history: The president used his public office to direct a massive contract to himself. The G-7 summit draws hundreds of diplomats, journalists and security personnel and provides a worldwide spotlight.
The announcement that the president’s club would host the international summit comes as Trump is in the midst of twin crises that are consuming his presidency — a hasty and confused American retreat in Syria and a growing impeachment inquiry in Congress.
Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, who announced the decision, said the administration was not worried about the appearance of a conflict of interest, while he touted what the president’s resort has to offer.
“Doral was far and away the best physical facility for this meeting,” Mulvaney said. He said that the administration examined 10 sites before choosing this one. Mulvaney quoted an anonymous site selection official who he said told him, “It’s almost like they built this facility to host this type of event.” Mulvaney did not say what other sites were vetted.
Mulvaney said it was Trump’s idea to pursue the idea of hosting the event at his resort.
“What about Doral?” he said, recounting the president’s comments in the White House dining room.
Eric Trump, the president’s son and the day-to-day leader of Trump’s businesses, did not immediately respond to questions about how much the president’s company would charge the U.S. or foreign governments during the event. He also did not immediately respond to questions about whether the Trump Organization would ask taxpayers to pay for upgrades to the site. One obvious concern for next year: There will be at least eight world leaders coming to this event, but at present Doral has just two “presidential suites.”
The choice of Doral was denounced by good-government groups on Thursday, including Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. That group filed suit against Trump for allegedly violating the Constitution’s “emoluments clause,” which prohibits presidents from taking payments from foreign governments.
“This is unbelievable. Given the potential consequences the president is facing for abusing the presidency for his own gain, we would have thought he would steer clear of blatant corruption at least temporarily; instead he has doubled down on it,” the group said in a statement. “The president is now officially using the power of his office to help prop up his struggling golf business.” [Continue reading…]