WASHINGTON – U.S. President Donald Trump has awarded hosting of the next G7 summit to one of his own Florida golf clubs, the White House said on Thursday, sparking immediate accusations of corruption from the opposition Democrats.
The site picked by his administration from 12 possible U.S. venues for the June 10-12 gathering next year is the Trump National Doral Golf Club, in Miami.
“We absolutely believe this is the best place to have it,” acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney told a news conference at the White House.
Jerry Nadler, the chairman of the powerful Democratic-led House Judiciary Committee called the decision “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,” Nadler said in a statement vowing that Trump’s “latest abuse of power” would not distract from investigations into the Ukraine scandal engulfing the presidency.
Democrats are investigating Trump for possible impeachment over his alleged bid to pressure Ukraine into digging up dirt on election rival Joe Biden.
They were already probing Trump’s suggestion at the most recent G7 gathering in France in August that the next could be hosted at one of his resorts which they say would violate both the foreign and domestic emoluments clauses that are designed to shield a commander in chief from outside influence.
Asked if Trump was aware the choice of venue would inevitably raise accusations of impropriety, Mulvaney said he was — and had decided to go ahead anyway.
“We’re going to have it there, and there’s going to be folks who will never get over the fact that it’s a Trump property. We get that, but we’re still going there,” he told reporters.
“The president knows exactly that he’s going to get these questions and he’s simply saying that’s fine — I’m willing to take that.”
Mulvaney said Trump suggested Doral as a venue when his team initially gathered to go over a list of 12 possible venues.
He said Doral would put on the event at cost, which he claimed would be as much as half what it would be at other venues. But he gave no estimates of the cost or comparisons.
An important draw is the club’s size — 900 acres, including three golf courses, according to Mulvaney, who said all the foreign delegations and the press could be housed “on campus.”
“Listen, I was skeptical, I was I was aware of the political criticism we’d come under for doing it at Doral,” Mulvaney said.
“That’s why I was surprised when the advance team came back and said this is the perfect location to do this.”
When he touted Doral at the last G7 in Biarritz, Trump brushed off critics who said he was pushing his brand and profiting from his office.
“It’s a great place. It’s got tremendous acreage, many hundreds of acres, so we can handle whatever happens,” he told reporters.
“It’s right next to the airport, meaning a few minutes away … plus it has buildings that have 50 to 70 units in them, so each delegation can have its own building.”
“They love the location of the hotel,” he said. “It’s Miami.”