(Bloomberg) — Donald Trump’s Doral golf resort in Miami will be the site of next year’s Group of Seven summit, the White House said on Thursday, a decision that reignited claims he’s violating a constitutional prohibition against profiting from the presidency.
The announcement, from acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, came as the president faces a House impeachment inquiry. 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 built this facility to host this type of event,” Mulvaney told reporters at the White House Thursday, 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 the 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 the June 10-12 event, although he said that issue hasn’t yet come up. He also said that climate change isn’t on the agenda.
After Trump’s initial 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 Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, who criticized Trump’s suggestion in August, on Thursday said the selection breached the ban on foreign “emoluments” to a president.
“This is a blatant violation of the emoluments clause of the U.S. Constitution,” the New York Democrats said. “The president uses his official office to bring an official function to his business to personally benefit from it. This is why the emoluments clause is written into the U.S. Constitution to prevent this type of corruption.”
QuickTake: Trump’s Business Ties and the Problem With Emoluments
Nadler is party to a lawsuit, along with about 200 other members of Congress, to enforce the Constitution’s emoluments clause. Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, one of the Democrats on the lawsuit, said he will add Trump’s G-7 decision to the complaint.
“If you wanted a classic violation of the United States Constitution, you couldn’t think of a clearer set of actions,” Blumenthal said.
Senator Lisa Murkowski, a Republican from Alaska, said, “no” when asked if it’s appropriate for Trump to host the multilateral summit at his own property.
The decision got a thumbs-up, though, from Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, who said he “selfishly” liked to see his state get attention and that others in the nearby community would benefit from staging the event there.
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 U.S. 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.
(Updates with lawmaker comments beginning in the ninth paragraph.)
–With assistance from Ben Brody, Erik Wasson and Steven T. Dennis.
To contact the reporters on this story: Ryan Beene in Washington at email@example.com;Jennifer A. Dlouhy in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Alex Wayne at email@example.com, Anna Edgerton, Ros Krasny
For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com
©2019 Bloomberg L.P.