White House announces President Trump will host next year's G7 summit at his Miami golf resort

Mick Mulvaney claims Trump won't personally profit from the big event at his own venue "in any way, shape or form"

By Igor Derysh

Senior News Editor

Published October 17, 2019 4:12PM (EDT)

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

Next year’s G7 summit will be held at President Trump’s National Doral Miami golf club, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney revealed Thursday at a press briefing.

The move poses Trump in direct odds with the Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits presidents from profiting off of foreign governments. Nonetheless, Mulvaney claimed that Trump would not personally profit from the massive international event "in any way, shape or form.”

"I would simply ask you all to consider the possibility that Donald Trump's brand is probably strong enough as it is, and he doesn't need any more help on that," he said. "It's the most recognizable name in the English language and probably around the world right now."

Mulvaney said the government also looked at possible locations in California, Hawaii and Utah before settling on Doral.

“Doral was far and away the best physical facility for this meeting,” Mulvaney said.

He then quoted an anonymous site-selection official who purportedly told him, “It’s almost like they built this facility to host this type of event.”

Mulvaney acknowledged that it was Trump who initially brought up the idea of using his golf resort to host the summit. He insisted, however, that Trump “would be criticized” regardless of where he chose to hold the event.

"He is not making any money off of this,” Mulvaney told reporters. “He doesn't need much help promoting his brand."

The G7 summit rotates sites among its seven member countries. Under former President Barack Obama, the 2012 summit was held at Camp David, the government-owned presidential retreat in Maryland.

Mulvaney’s announcement came as Trump has continued to push a debunked conspiracy theory that former Vice President Joe Biden’s family profited off his vice presidency. The acting White House chief of staff was asked how Trump could attack his 2020 rival given his recent move.

“There’s no profit here, clearly there’s no profit,” Mulvaney insisted. "The Trump family made their money before they went into politics."

However, the Emoluments Clause makes it clear that "no person holding any office of profit or trust under them, shall, without the consent of the Congress, accept of any present, emolument, office or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince or foreign state." Six foreign governments will be represented at the summit.

And Doral has been struggled since Trump’s presidential run. Profits at the resort have fallen by 69 percent over the last three years. “They are severely underperforming,” a consultant hired by Trump told officials last year in an attempt to lower the property’s tax bill.

The summit will also take place at a particularly down time on the resort’s schedule. The event is scheduled for June, which the Washington Post noted was the second-slowest month at the hotel, with just more than 38 percent of rooms occupied.

Since Trump took office, Doral has played host to events held by the president’s political allies. One such event by the pro-Trump group American Priority was held last weekend, where a video showing Trump shooting and stabbing his political opponents and media organizations was featured.

The decision to hold the G7 summit at Doral also contradicts Trump vow that he would be “leaving my great business in total” as president.

“There are lines that we would never cross,” his son Eric vowed in 2017. "and that’s mixing business with anything government."

But Eric had been trying to sell the idea of Doral as a G7 summit host for months. Last week, he claimed that holding it at Doral would save the federal government a “tremendous amount of money” compared to another company “that’s going to milk the hell out of the U.S. government.”

Trump’s properties have benefited greatly from his presidency. Numerous foreign governments and companies have bought up rooms en masse at his hotels, sometimes without even using them, while doing business with the government. Republican campaigns, the Republican National Committee and Trump’s own re-election campaign have spent millions at his properties. Attorney General William Barr has plans to throw a $30,000 holiday party at the president's Washington hotel.

But Mulvaney was undeterred by repeated questions about Trump profiting off the G7 summit, insisting that the event would be hosted “at cost” and would be “dramatically cheaper” in comparison to other sites.

"It's probably going to be hot in Florida in June,” a reporter asked. “Will climate change be one of the issues you'll discuss?"

"Climate change will not be on the agenda,” Mulvaney replied.

You can watch Mulvaney's press briefing below:

By Igor Derysh

Igor Derysh is Salon's senior news editor. His work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Herald and Baltimore Sun.

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