President Trump said today that he was likely to hold next year’s Group of Seven summit at his resort in Doral, Fla., meaning he could personally profit from one of the world’s most prestigious gatherings of foreign leaders.
In a news conference, Trump said that his staff had scoured the country and determined that — of all America’s resorts and resort towns — Trump’s club was the best situated to host the international meeting.
“They went places all over the country, and they came back and said, ‘This is where we’d like to be,’ ” Trump said. “It’s not about me. It’s about getting the right location.”
The Doral club is in an inland area of Miami-Dade County, situated among industrial parks far from the Atlantic Ocean.
But Trump cited the resort’s ample parking and its proximity to the Miami airport.
He said nations’ delegations could stay in the club’s large villas, which are named after golf legends such as Tiger Woods.
Trump said he had lost more than $3 billion from being president — a figure he has never detailed or backed up with documentation.
He said the Doral event, which would bring hundreds of people to a resort that his company has said is severely underperforming, was not intended to make himself money.
The president said a final decision had not been made but did not indicate that another location was being considered.
It is not clear how much revenue an event like the G-7 meeting would provide for his company.
The company says it donates all its profits from foreign governments to the U.S. Treasury, but it has not explained exactly how it calculates “profit.”
Aides say Trump has sought for months to hold the summit at Doral, but many of his advisers have warned against the idea, concerned about the ethics of the president potentially profiting from an official government event.
Since taking office, Trump has faced pushback about his official visits to his properties from some of his aides, including inside the White House Counsel’s Office.
Trump has not divested from his private business interests and has regularly visited them during the presidency, eating out at his hotel in the District and spending many weekends at his properties in New Jersey and Florida, where GOP officials often hold fundraisers.
In all, his scores of trips to his properties have brought his private businesses at least $1.6 million in revenue, from federal officials and GOP campaigns who pay to go where Trump goes, according to a Washington Post analysis this year.
The Constitution prohibits presidents from taking emoluments, or payments, from foreign states. Trump has continued to do business with foreign governments at his hotels — saying the Founders meant to ban outright bribes, not business transactions.
His company has said it is not actively seeking foreign governments as customers.
This would appear to be a move in the opposite direction.
In this case, Trump is trying to use his power as president to compel foreign officials — the six other leaders and their entourages — into becoming his customers.
The club has struggled , according to figures Trump’s company gave to Miami-Dade County last year.
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.
“They are severely underperforming” other resorts in the area, tax consultant Jessica Vachiratevanurak, who’d been hired by Trump, told a Miami-Dade County official last year in a bid to lower the property’s tax bill.
The reason, she said, was Trump’s brand name, now closely identified with Trump’s aggressively partisan brand of politics.
“There is some negative connotation that is associated with the brand,” Vachiratevanurak said.
This summer, Doral had booked a golf tournament hosted by a Miami-area strip club, where players could bid for “caddy girls” to accompany them on the course.
The tournament was canceled after the strip club’s charity pulled out.
Attribution:The Washington Post