Next year’s G-7 summit is good news for South Florida, great news for Doral — and horrendous news for a nation in which the president of the United States, no matter who holds the office, is ethically beholden to maintain a bright line of separation between his business and the business of the country.
But little has been traditional, or ethical, in the Trump administration.
The White House announced on Thursday that the next G-7 summit of world leaders — bringing with it hundreds of diplomats, journalists and security staff — will be held at his very own golf resort in Doral, Florida, in western Miami-Dade County. According to acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, the decision was reached after a nationwide search that included Mar-a-Lago, another Trump property, in Palm Beach. Of course.
In essence, the president just awarded a huge and lucrative contract to himself. The question is, however: Just how much will it cost American taxpayers?
This is infuriatingly indicative of the self-dealing in which the president and his family have engaged throughout his tenure, from his daughter and senior advisor Ivanka winning initial approval from the Chinese government for 16 new trademarks, covering a wide range of products that include voting machines, to the U.S. Air Force’s decision to stop at Trump’s Turnberry resort in Scotland, refueling at a nearby airport. It was one of several refueling trips that would have been cheaper had the Air Force used a military base. Instead, service members stayed at the Trump property. Congress has opened an investigation into this one.
Let’s be clear: Trump is a chronically self-dealing president who sees the hordes who will attend the G-7 summit as a chance to boost the flagging financial fortunes of his golf resort. According to the Washington Post, the Trump Organization’s records reveal that the resort’s net operating income fell 69 percent from 2015 to 2017, coinciding with his election in 2016. The damage he has done to the office — and the nation — has taken a toll on the Trump brand, too.
Doral’s Mayor Juan Carlos Bermudez, understandably, has other considerations, appreciating that his city will be in the global spotlight. Trump had already hinted at the G-7 held this year in France that the next summit was destined for his resort. Bermudez told the Editorial Board that mention led the city to smartly earmark about $300,000 to cover the expense of security and police overtime.
Plus, “The summit will let everyone know who we are,” the mayor said.
That’s priceless branding for Doral, but there are the costs for the rest of us, especially if taxpayers are on the hook for pre-summit upgrades to the property.
The president is blatantly looking out for his own interests. Who is looking out for ours?
The U.S. House, controlled by Democrats, has passed a bill prohibiting federal funds from going to the president’s private properties. It’s a long shot, unfortunately, that the measure will become law, given Republicans’ refusal to bring the leader of their party to heel.
That leaves the courts. Trump has been sued by 200 Democrats in Congress over his business dealings with foreign governments. They are pushing to force Trump to hew to the Foreign Emoluments Clause in the Constitution, preventing presidents from profiting from deals with foreign countries without congressional approval.
Seems like a slam-dunk to us. The courts should see it the same way.