Trump to host G-7 at his Miami resort, fuelling conflict claims

US President Donald Trump gestures to the media as he departs Washington for campaign travel to Texas from Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, US, on Oct 17, 2019.
US President Donald Trump gestures to the media as he departs Washington for campaign travel to Texas from Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, US, on Oct 17, 2019. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (BLOOMBERG) - US President Donald Trump’s Doral golf resort in Miami will be the site of next year’s Group of Seven (G-7) summit, the White House said on Thursday (Oct 17), a decision that will reignite claims he’s violating a constitutional prohibition against profiting from the presidency.

The announcement by Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney came as the president is facing an impeachment inquiry in the House.

Trump has been attacking rival presidential candidate Joe Biden, saying that when he was vice president, he used his position to further his son Hunter’s business interests.

“It’s almost like they build this facility to host this type of event,” Mulvaney told reporters at the White House, saying “a lot of the same criteria” used for past summits were applied to choosing the site.

He said the president “will not be profiting here” and that Doral will be much less expensive than alternatives.

The president pitched hosting the 2020 G-7 summit at Trump National Doral at this year’s August gathering of leaders in Biarritz, France, saying that the luxury property is “very big” and that each country could “have their own villa, or their own bungalow.”

With the host setting much of agenda for a G-7 meeting, Mulvaney said that Trump could invite Russian President Vladimir Putin to attend, although he said that issue hasn’t yet come up.

He also said that climate change isn’t on the agenda.

After Trump’s comments in August, the House Judiciary Committee said it would investigate the proposed site selection as part of its ongoing probe to determine whether to bring articles of impeachment against the president.

Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler at the time said hosting the G-7 at Doral would violate the Constitution’s ban on foreign “emoluments” to a president, and said doing so would reflect “perhaps the first publicly known instance in which foreign governments would be required to pay President Trump’s private businesses in order to conduct business with the United States.”

Trump’s decision to maintain his varied private business holdings while in office has drawn criticism from ethics experts and led to several lawsuits.

Trump has said he’s likely losing billions of dollars by serving as president.

Most legal actions accusing Trump of serially violating the emoluments ban so far haven’t advanced far enough to resolve underlying constitutional issues.

Trump’s business, the Trump Organization, has sought to counter criticism by donating profit from foreign leaders’ visits to the US Treasury, which his critics say is an unenforceable commitment that doesn’t resolve the constitutional issue.

Even if the Trump Organization turns over profit from the G-7, Doral would benefit in other ways from hosting a summit of world leaders. The resort would get free publicity that could boost future profit.