The White House has chosen President Donald Trump’s resort in Doral, Florida, for the next Group of Seven summit of world leaders during the homestretch of the 2020 presidential campaign, White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said on Thursday.
In a defensive press conference, Mulvaney insisted that the president would not profit from the decision to host all seven country delegations on his personal property for the annual summit June 10-12. And he raised the prospect that Trump would invite Russian President Vladimir Putin to attend.
“There’s no profit here,” Mulvaney said in a media briefing. “He’s not making any money off of this just like he’s not making any money off of working here.”
Several local authorities that spoke with the Miami Herald had said they were unaware of the decision in advance of Mulvaney’s announcement. The chief of staff said that the administration would be in contact with the relevant authorities.
The move was expected after Trump previewed the decision during the last G-7 summit in Biarritz, France, in August. “Having it in Miami is fantastic,” Trump said. “Each country can have their own villa, or their own bungalow.”
The Trump administration’s decision to hold the G-7 event at the president’s hotel comes as the property is struggling financially.
Profits from the resort fell nearly 70 percent from 2015 to 2017, according to evidence provided by a consultant for the Trump Organization during an annual review of the resort’s taxable value last year. The consultant told Miami-Dade County that the resort was “severely under-performing” and blamed the downfall on “some negative connotation associated with the brand.” The county agreed to drop the resort’s value for 2018 from $110.3 million to $105.6 million.
This year, the Trump Organization has again appealed Miami-Dade’s assessment of its value.
Mulvaney touted the location for its proximity to Miami International Airport, about a nine-mile drive from the hotel, and its ability to isolate the summit from pedestrians.
But selecting one of his own properties to host the international summit has caused consternation among Democratic lawmakers, who see the move as yet another violation of the emoluments clause, a provision of the U.S. Constitution that prohibits politicians from accepting “present, emolument, office or title of any kind” from foreign states while in office.
Foreign leaders have attempted to curry favor with the administration by staying at Trump properties. Over the summer, Vice President Mike Pence faced criticism for staying hours away from the location of meetings in Dublin, Ireland, at a Trump hotel, and the president came under scrutiny as reports emerged that U.S. Air Force crews had been staying at a Trump property during stopovers in Scotland.
Hosting the 2020 G-7 summit at Trump National Doral could intensify Democrats’ concerns.
“The Doral situation reflects perhaps the first publicly known instance in which foreign governments would be required to spend foreign government funds at President Trump’s private businesses in order to engage in official diplomatic negotiations and meetings with the United States,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., and Constitution subcommittee chair Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., wrote in a letter to the White House in September.
Trump says he authorized a nationwide search before landing on one of his properties.
“They went to places all over the country and they came back and said, ‘This is where we’d like to be,’ ” Trump said in France. “It’s not about me. It’s about getting the right location.”
Hosting the G-7 summit for leaders from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States would make Miami the epicenter of global politics next summer. Trump has said he would like Russia to be invited back to the summit following the country’s ouster in 2014 due to the annexation of Crimea.
McClatchyDC reporter Alex Daugherty and Miami Herald staff writers Douglas Hanks, Taylor Dolven and David Smiley contributed to this report.