President Trump says his Miami golf resort would be a "great location" for next year's G-7 meeting

"They love the location of the hotel," he said of G7 members. "We haven't found anything close to competing to it"

By Shira Tarlo

Published August 26, 2019 1:24PM (EDT)

 (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)
(Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump revealed on Monday that he would likely hold next year's Group of Seven summit at his golf resort located in Doral, Fla.

Trump, appearing with German Chancellor Angela Merkel during a bilateral meeting at the G-7 conference in France, hailed Trump National Doral for its proximity to the city's international airport and its massive size.

"They love the location of the hotel," he said of the G-7 countries. "We haven't found anything that's even close to competing with it. Really you can be there in a matter of minutes after you land."

"It's one of the biggest airports, takes planes from everywhere. Sometimes you have hours and hours of driving to get to certain locations," he said, then turned to Merkel: "You'll only have a five-minute drive, which is good."

He went on to praise his 800-acre golf resort for its "tremendous acreage," separate buildings for different delegations and "great" conference rooms.

"We think we're going to have a very successful one. And we can learn from what took place here, because I think they did a really great job, even architecturally — the way the rooms were set up and designed. I think they're really good," Trump said of this year's prestigious gathering of foreign leaders, which is being held in France. "We got some good ideas from this G-7."

Nonetheless, the president noted a final decision about the location of next year's summit not been made.

Although Monday was the first time Trump publicly expressed his interest in holding the summit at his Miami resort, he has reportedly floated the idea for months to many of his advisers, the Washington Post reported. The president's aides have warned against the idea, expressing concern about the optics of the president potentially profiting from official government guests, according to the newspaper.

Since he clinched the presidency in 2016, Trump has not divested from his private business interests, against the advice of government ethics experts, and he has regularly visited them throughout his tenure in the White House. The president spends most weekends at his properties in New Jersey and Florida, which he has referred to as the "Summer White House" and the "Winter White House," respectively. The two resorts have become a popular spot for Republican officials to hold fundraisers in the past two years.

The Trump International Hotel in Washington, located just blocks from the White House, has also emerged as a particular source of controversy. It has become a magnet for lobbyists, foreign governments and organizations friendly to the president's agenda, who have given the appearance of gathering at the establishment in effort to curry favor with the administration.

The president's properties have drawn three lawsuits filed by the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, Democrats in Congress, and jointly, the attorneys general of Maryland and the District of Columbia. The lawsuits claim Trump is in violation of a constitutional ban by accepting payments through his hotels. The Constitution prohibits presidents from taking "emoluments," considered gifts or payments, from foreign governments without congressional approval.

Trump, however, has continued to do business with foreign dignitaries. The president's personal lawyers have argued the emoluments clause only prohibits compensation in exchange for a "personal service in his capacity as [an] officerholder," or a bribe.

Since June 2017, the Department of Justice has appeared to adopt a new interpretation of the emoluments clause. The new interpretation ". . . permit[s] the president - and all federal officials - to accept unlimited amounts of money from foreign governments, as long as the money comes through commercial transactions with an entity owned by the federal official."

The Trump Organization announced last February that it donated profits from hotel business with foreign governments to the U.S. Treasury, although it declined to reveal the amount of the contributions and how those amounts were calculated. It also refused to identify those foreign customers.

The company has also claimed that it does not actively market to foreign governments or solicit their business. But the latest revelation that Trump is interested in holding the G-7 summit at his resort marks a sharp contrast to that statement.

Profits at Trump National Doral have been in steep decline since Trump announced his presidential campaign, the Washington Post reported, citing the president's federal disclosures. In two years, the resort's net operating income had fallen by 69 percent, according to the newspaper.

Shira Tarlo

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