The White House announced that Donald Trump has chosen his own property, the Doral Resort, as the site that will host the next G-7 summit in June.
Trump had been lobbying his G-7 partners for months to hold the summit at his Florida property. And why not? The resort consistently ranks as one of the best in the U.S. and is a prestige property. Even if Trump wasn’t president and didn’t own it, the Doral would have been near the top of any president’s list to host a summit.
But Trump is president and he owns it. And that’s a problem.
During a rare and contentious White House press briefing, Mulvaney tried to assuage concerns about “emoluments violations” by the president by telling the media that Trump will not make any money off the event. He said the golf club will be providing the location and services at cost.
“The president has made it clear that he doesn’t profit from being here,” Mulvaney said during the briefing. “The resort is doing it at cost…it’s much cheaper to do it at Doral than at other sites [that were being considered.]”
You can imagine a gleeful Trump tickled pink as his Democratic opponents rage about his choice. Once again, he’s playing them like a fiddle.
“The Administration’s announcement that President Trump’s Doral Miami resort will be the site of the next G7 summit is among the most brazen examples yet of the President’s corruption. He is exploiting his office and making official U.S. government decisions for his personal financial gain. The Emoluments Clauses of the Constitution exist to prevent exactly this kind of corruption. The Committee will continue investigating, litigating and legislating regarding these matters—including pressing for answers to our prior requests about the G7 selection process—but we will not allow this latest abuse of power to distract from Congress’ efforts to get to the bottom of the President’s interference in the 2020 election.”
Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern thinks the decision to hold the summit at Doral is “worthy of impeachment all on its own.”
The president’s decision to exploit the G-7 summit for personal enrichment is so obviously corrupt, so shameless and extortionary, that it seems strange to debate whether it is also unlawful. And yet, from the start of Trump’s tenure, his opponents have struggled to find an effective line of legal attack against his self-dealing. Government watchdogs have sued him in federal court, but their efforts have stalled—in part because judges have struggled with the unprecedented nature of the offense: No other president has bilked his office for so much cash. It seems implausible that the Constitution would provide no mechanism to halt such brazen corruption. And yet, here we are, well more than halfway through Trump’s term, and the president’s heists are only getting more blatant. Can anything or anyone stop his raid on the public fisc?
So corrupt, but not illegal. That would definitely be so — if Trump or his family were actually making any money off the summit.
Congress could easily check on this. The White House says that the resort will host the event “at cost” which, considering the enormous amount of planning and resources that will be devoted to not just rooms for all the leaders, their aides, and their security detachments, but site security, food, press accommodations, and all the rigmarole that goes into these made-for-TV events, means that the emoluments clause doesn’t apply.
In other words, Trump is going to take a financial bath by hosting the summit there.
What won’t be on the bill will be the millions of dollars in free publicity Trump’s property will receive all over the world. So yes, in the end, our president will profit handsomely from holding the summit there.
Not illegal. Corrupt.