In late August, Donald Trump made an announcement that seemed brazen, even by his standards: the president liked the idea of having the next G7 summit at one of his own businesses. Specifically, Trump talked up the possibility of hosting the event at his Doral, Florida, golf resort, not far from Miami International Airport.
As the Washington Post reported at the time, “If Trump does choose Doral, he would be directing six world leaders, hundreds of hangers-on and massive amounts of money to a resort he owns personally – and which, according to his company’s representatives, has been ‘severely underperforming.’”
Take a wild guess what happened next.
Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney announced Thursday that next year’s Group of Seven summit meeting of world leaders will be held at President Donald Trump’s Miami-area resort. […]
“This is the perfect physical location to do this,” Mulvaney told reporters Thursday, adding that the White House advance team visited multiple potential locations and reported back that it was “almost like they built [Doral] to host this type of event.”
Just so we’re all clear, world leaders who wish to participate in the G7 gathering will now have no choice but to spend considerable funds at the American president’s own struggling business. It’s a recipe for an Emoluments Clause nightmare.
This is, of course, the same American president who claims to be deeply concerned about “corruption,” even as his own White House awards a lucrative contract to one of his failing enterprises.
Indeed, the resort has been in “sharp decline” for a while: “At Doral, which Trump has listed in federal disclosures as his biggest moneymaker hotel, room rates, banquets, golf and overall revenue were all down since 2015. In two years, the resort’s net operating income – a key figure, representing the amount left over after expenses are paid – had fallen by 69 percent.”
The venue has especially struggled in the summer months, when it’s “usually empty.”
The G7 summit will be held in June 2020, which means Trump’s business will suddenly have a lot of customers, right when they’re needed most.
Did I mention Doral’s “lengthy history of health-code violations”? Because that’s probably relevant, too.
I’m sure the president’s Republican allies will once again shrug their shoulders. They’ll say the conflicts of interest don’t matter. They’ll say it doesn’t matter if Trump uses his office to help the business he still owns and profits from. They’ll say the foreign money flowing into the president’s private-sector enterprise only looks unconstitutional. They’ll say it’s only a coincidence that the White House is doing a lucrative favor for Trump’s struggling business.
I’m less sure why they think anyone would find their arguments persuasive.