The Trump administration says the decision to host the 2020 G-7 Summit at the president’s golf club, Trump National Doral Miami in Florida, will save taxpayers money and poses no conflict of interest. “The president has made it clear since he’s been here that he hasn’t profited since he’s been here,” said Mick Mulvaney, acting White House chief of staff.
But Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) Executive Director Noah Bookbinder calls the decision unbelievable. “Given the the potential consequences the president is facing for abusing the presidency for his own gain, we would have thought he would steer clear of blatant corruption at least temporarily,” Bookbinder said.
Eric Trump, The Trump Organization executive vice president and the president’s son, spoke at the Yahoo Finance All Markets Summit before the decision was announced to host the G7 at Trump National Doral and dismissed the potential conflict of interest. “Because we’d be doing it for nothing,” he said.
The younger Trump says the law requires The Trump Organization to charge the government something for things like housekeeping, but the total cost is less than hosting the summit elsewhere.
“If my father travels, they stay at our properties for free,” Trump said. “So everywhere that he goes, if he stays at one of his places, the government actually spends, meaning it saves a fortune because if they were to go to a hotel across the street, they’d be charging them $500 a night, whereas, you know we charge them, like $50,” he added.
But Bookbinder told Yahoo Finance, “Eric Trump's statements make clear that not only were they unconcerned with the clear conflicts of interest that the prospect of holding the G-7 at Doral created, but they were actively working to market their property for this massive government contract."
Trump National Doral
A spokesperson for The Trump Organization issued a statement to Yahoo Finance saying, “We are excited to have been asked to host the 2020 G-7 Summit at Trump National Doral. Trump Doral is a world-class facility, with an unrivaled hospitality team and we are honored by this recognition.”
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) August 26, 2019
President Trump announced in August 2019 the possibility of holding the G-7 at Trump National Doral saying, “It’s a wonderful place. It’s a very very successful area of Florida.”
The president explained that his golf resort is close to Miami International Airport and is large enough, 800 acres, to host the international leaders and delegates that would attend.
But Trump National Doral has suffered financially since Trump took office. Financial disclosures show Doral generated just under $76 million dollars in revenue last year, down from the $116 million it generated in 2016.
Eric Trump insists neither The Trump Organization nor his father are using Donald Trump’s presidency to turn a profit.
“My father’s a prideful guy,” Eric Trump said. “You know, he built something incredible and you know there’s a comfort level there. And he would like to show hospitality to these countries like they do to us.”
Bookbinder disagrees. “The President and his family have consistently and shamelessly used the presidency to promote their properties,” he said. “This is just the latest and most brazen example.”
Adam Shapiro is co-anchor of Yahoo Finance On the Move.