Trump drops plan to host summit at his Florida golf resort

U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, in a tweet about the reversal, noting the Trump National Doral golf resort's (above) positive features for hosting a large gathering.
U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, in a tweet about the reversal, noting the Trump National Doral golf resort's (above) positive features for hosting a large gathering.

President's reversal comes as critics slam original plan as evidence that he is misusing office for personal gain

WASHINGTON • US President Donald Trump has abandoned plans to host next year's Group of Seven (G-7) summit at his Florida golf resort, after Democrats and others decried the selection as evidence of the President misusing his office for personal gain.

In a series of tweets last Saturday, Mr Trump said he would drop the plan announced two days earlier by White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney to host the meeting at the Trump National Doral golf resort near Miami from June 10 to 12.

Mr Trump cited what he termed "Crazed and Irrational Hostility" from Democrats and the news media in explaining the reversal.

"We will begin the search for another site, including the possibility of Camp David, immediately," he wrote.

The Republican President faces criticism and a number of congressional probes over his finances and potential conflicts of interest stemming from his real estate business, which he still owns, and an impeachment inquiry into accusations that he pursued political interests in his dealings with Ukraine.

Mr Trump sought in his unusual reversal to emphasise what he said were the resort's positive features for hosting a large gathering.

"I thought I was doing something very good for our Country," he wrote on Twitter.

The US Constitution's emoluments clause prohibits government officials from receiving salaries, fees or profits from foreign and domestic governments without congressional approval.

Watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington said last Saturday that the initial decision to award the event to a Trump property was "stunningly corrupt" but the "reversal shows that pressure works".

 
 

"The President deserves no plaudits for doing the right thing only after public outcry forced him not to do the wrong thing," it said.

Democrats have said they would investigate Mr Trump's plan to host the G-7 summit at his property after he floated the idea in August. The decision also sparked criticism from a number of Republicans.

In a statement last Thursday, House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerrold Nadler called the announcement "among the most brazen examples yet of the President's corruption".

Mr Nadler also said the committee would continue investigating "regarding these matters". The announcement prompted requests from Democrats for detailed records from the White House to explain why 11 other sites were not chosen and how much taxpayers would pay.

In May, the Washington Post reported that the Doral's operating income had fallen 69 per cent since 2015, citing company documents that it reviewed. Mr Mulvaney had suggested on Thursday that Mr Trump would not profit from use of the property because any charges would be "at cost".

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 21, 2019, with the headline 'Trump drops plan to host summit at his resort'. Print Edition | Subscribe