World

White House says next G7 to be held at Trump golf resort in Miami

The White House says it has chosen U.S. President Donald Trump's golf resort in Miami as the site for next year's Group of Seven summit.

Idea of holding event at Trump's resort criticized by government ethics watchdogs

The G7 summit will be held June 10-12 in Miami at Trump Doral. The idea of holding the event at U.S. President Donald Trump's golf resort has been criticized by government ethics watchdogs. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

U.S. President Donald Trump will host next year's Group of Seven economic summit of developed nations' leaders at his Florida golf resort, a move Democrats and others decried as more evidence of the president misusing his office for personal gain.

White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney on Thursday told a news conference that the G7 summit would take place at Trump National Doral golf resort near Miami on June 10-12 after the administration chose it from about a dozen potential sites.

The announcement comes just as the president accused Joe Biden's family of profiting from public office because of the Democratic Party candidate's son Hunter Biden's business activities in Ukraine when his father was vice-president.

Trump is also facing ongoing criticism and a number of congressional investigations over his finances and potential conflicts of interest stemming from his real estate business, which he still owns. He is also facing an impeachment inquiry into allegations he pursued political interests in his dealings with Ukraine.

 The idea of holding the event at Trump's resort has been criticized by government ethics watchdogs.

Lawmakers decry choice, claim 'no one is above the law' 

The U.S. Constitution's emoluments clause prohibits government officials from receiving salaries, fees or profits from foreign and domestic governments without congressional approval. Democrats have said they would investigate Trump's plan to host the G7 at his property after he floated the idea in August.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic lawmakers decried the choice.

"The Constitution is clear: the President cannot accept gifts or payments from foreign governments. No one is above the law," Pelosi wrote on Twitter.

House judiciary committee chair Jerrold Nadler, in a statement, called the announcement "among the most brazen examples yet of the President's corruption." Nadler said the committee would continue investigating "regarding these matters."

The Democratic National Committee said in a statement that it appeared that Trump was trying to resuscitate an unprofitable property that has "been hemorrhaging money."

In May, the Washington Post reported Doral's operating income had fallen 69 percent since 2015, citing company documents that it reviewed.

"The president is now officially using the power of his office to help prop up his struggling golf business," said Noah Bookbinder, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

Trump "no longer sees fit even to pretend that he is constrained by the law or the Constitution," said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen.

But Trump has touted his resort, saying it's close to the airport, has plenty of hotel rooms and offers separate buildings for every delegation.

Mulvaney told reporters that Trump will not profit from use of the property because any charges would be "at cost." He also said using Doral "was millions of dollars cheaper" than other facilities and would lead to a "roughly 50 per cent savings."

A team looking at the sites reported that it was "the perfect physical location to do this,"  Mulvaney said. He said about a dozen potential sites were narrowed to a list of four finalists before Trump Doral was selected.

"It became apparent at the end of that process that Doral was by far and away the best physical facility for this meeting," Mulvaney said.

He said that holding the event at Doral would be dramatically cheaper than other sites and that Trump would not be profiting from the event.

"There's no issue here on him profiting from this in any way, shape or form," Mulvaney said.

Trump has repeatedly attacked Joe Biden, a leading Democratic presidential candidate and former vice-president, over his son's business ties in Ukraine and China, which Trump has repeatedly and without evidence called corrupt.

Asked how the president's use of his private business properties to host official government events differed from Trump's allegations against the Bidens, Mulvaney told reporters there would be no profit and said the family had made their money before Trump became president in January 2017.

The Trump National Doral golf resort is shown in Doral, Fla., in March. (Joe Skipper/Reuters)

Trump has said he is not involved with the day-to-day operations of his private company and that his sons run the business.

Republican Senator Mitt Romney, who has been critical of Trump's Ukraine dealings but has not called for his impeachment, called the choice "a very unusual site selection."

Other Democrats said they were amazed at the announcement, and noted the irony of it being made on the same day that House oversight committee chair Elijah Cummings, whose committee had been probing whether Trump had used taxpayer funds to enrich himself, had died.

"All pretence is gone," said Representative Peter Welch, a member of the oversight committee. Referring to Trump's eldest daughter, he added, "He'll probably have Ivanka there checking them in and taking deposits."

When the United States has hosted the summit before, it has been held in Puerto Rico; Williamsburg, Va.; Houston, Texas; Denver, Colo.; Sea Island, Ga.; and Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.