Trump Says He Wouldn’t Profit From a G-7 Summit at Doral, Presidency Cost Him Billions

(Los Angeles Times/TNS) -
U.S. President Donald Trump at the G7 Summit on Monday, Aug. 26, 2019. (Michael Kappeler/DPA/Abaca Press/TNS)

President Donald Trump said Monday that next year’s Group of 7 summit — an annual gathering of world leaders representing powerful democracies — could take place at his own golf resort in Florida.

The possibility of the summit taking place at one of Trump’s private hotels would mean the president could stand to personally profit from the conference of global leaders, although the Constitution prohibits presidents from taking payments from foreign governments.

The president said at a news conference on Monday that his team had looked at 12 sites, but that Trump National resort in Doral, Fla., proved to be a “natural” option. He boasted about a series of “magnificent buildings” with “luxurious rooms” and “incredible” views, restaurants and conference rooms.

“My people wanted it. From my standpoint, I’m not going to make any money,” said Trump, who owns more than 10 hotels and golf clubs around the world, including the Doral hotel. “In my opinion, I’m not going to make any money. I don’t want to make money.”

When further quizzed about profits the move could bring him, Trump discussed the financial losses he says he has sustained as president.

“In a combination of loss and opportunity, I think it will lose me anywhere from $3-5 billion to be president,” Trump said. “I used to get paid to give speeches. Now I give speeches all the time. You know what I get? Zippo.”

Earlier in the day, the president told reporters during an appearance with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the conference in France that the summit would likely take place in Miami for the convenience of its international airport “that takes planes from everywhere.” When asked whether he would host the G-7 at the Trump National hotel in Doral, he said it’s a strong contender.

“They love the location of the hotel,” Trump said. “We haven’t found anything that’s even close to competing with it.”

Trump added that while a final decision had not been made, the resort’s “tremendous acreage” and availability of buildings with conference rooms for each delegation make it a favorable option.

The Constitution bars federal officials from taking “emoluments,” or forms of payment or profit, from any “King, Prince, or Foreign State” as an ethics guideline. The Washington Post, which has covered Trump’s business dealings extensively, explains that this clause can be traced back to the Founding Fathers, who sought to stop U.S. ambassadors from taking bribes from wealthy European states. However, the modern meaning of the clause isn’t as rigid because most presidents have steered clear of business entanglements while in office.

Because of Trump’s business ventures, ethical concerns about the potential for conflicts of interest in relation to his business empire have followed the president since he was on the campaign trail. The unprecedented ties have also led to confusion among federal regulators, including in regard to the emoluments’ clause.

A report released earlier this year alleged that General Services Administration officials “ignored” concerns that Trump’s lease on a government-owned building could violate the Constitution when it allowed Trump to keep the lease after he took office.

The agency’s inspector general reported that officials administering the lease relating to the Trump International Hotel in Washington were aware of the possibility that the Trump hotel’s business with foreign governments could be interpreted as an emoluments’ violation. However, they often concluded that the issue was someone else’s responsibility and failed to conduct a comprehensive review, according to the report.

The president has repeatedly vowed to fight congressional oversight efforts to scrutinize his conduct, including his business dealings.