Trump scraps plan to host G-7 at his Doral golf resort
Responding to stinging criticism, President Donald Trump has abruptly reversed his plan to hold the next year’s Group of Seven world leaders’ meeting at his Doral golf resort in Florida.
“I think he knows,” his acting chief of staff said Sunday, “people think it looks lousy.”
Trump announced a rare backtrack Saturday night after facing accusations that he was using the presidency to enrich himself by hosting the international summit at the private resort owned by his family.
“Based on both Media & Democrat Crazed and Irrational Hostility, we will no longer consider Trump National Doral, Miami, as the Host Site for the G-7 in 2020,” Trump tweeted. He said his administration “will begin the search for another site, including the possibility of Camp David, immediately.”
The striking reversal raises further doubts about the position of the president’s top aide, Mick Mulvaney, who held a news conference Thursday announcing the choice of Doral for the summit. He insisted his staff had concluded it was “far and away the best physical facility”. Mulvaney said the White House reached that determination after visiting 10 sites across the country.
Mulvaney yesterday claimed that Trump was “honestly surprised at the level of pushback” after the Doral announcement. “At the end of the day, he still considers himself to be in the hospitality business,” Mulvaney told ‘Fox News Sunday.’
Absolute best show
“He wanted to put on the absolute best show, the best visit that he possibly could, and he was very confident in doing that at Doral,” the acting chief of staff said.
Days after being the face of the selection, Mulvaney again held a national stage, but this time said: “I think it’s the right decision to change.”
At the same news conference Thursday, Mulvaney acknowledged a quid pro quo was at work when Trump held up US aid to Ukraine in exchange for Ukraine’s investigation of Democrats and the 2016 elections. Mulvaney later claimed his comments had been misconstrued, but not before drawing the ire of the president and frustration from other senior aides.
Trump had been the first administration official to publicly float the selection of his property to host the summit when in August he mentioned it was on the shortlist and praised its facilities and proximity to Miami’s international airport. His comments, more than a month before the official announcement, drew instant criticism from good governance groups and Democrats, who said it raised concerns that Trump was using the White House to boost his personal finances
The vociferous criticism only intensified with Thursday’s official announcement, drawing wide condemnation from Democrats and even some Republicans. Trump insisted he would host the summit at cost, though he refused to disclose financial details. The annual heads-of-state gathering would at minimum have provided goodwill value to his property.
The Trump Organization did not respond to an emailed request Friday seeking details on how it would calculate its charges to the federal government, such as whether it would include the full cost of upgrades to buildings that could benefit the resort for years to come.