- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 17, 2019

The Group of Seven summit will be held at the Trump National Doral resort in Miami, the White House announced Thursday, throwing gasoline on the debate over President Trump’s willingness to mix personal and public business.

Mr. Trump’s acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, acknowledged the skepticism about choosing a Trump-branded property for the June meeting of the world’s seven biggest economies but said planners used the same criteria as past administrations and scouted about a dozen sites.

“It became apparent at the end of that process that Doral was by far and away — far and away — the best physical facility for this meeting,” Mr. Mulvaney said.

Democrats erupted in fury, saying the decision puts foreign leaders in an awkward spot and likely flouts a ban on profiting from the presidency.

“Our Founding Fathers are rolling over in their graves. Holding an international summit of world leaders at the president’s resort is not just a conflict of interest, it is unconstitutional,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut Democrat.

Mr. Trump promoted his club during the G-7 meetings in France two months ago, saying the resort was “a natural” for the 2020 summit because it is close to the Miami airport and each country can have a separate bungalow.

Democrats are investigating that promotion, saying it’s the first time foreign nations have been asked to interact with Mr. Trump’s business to negotiate with the U.S.

They said the White House’s decision to select Mr. Trump’s property is infuriating.

“The administration’s announcement that President Trump’s Doral Miami resort will be the site of the next G-7 summit is among the most brazen examples yet of the president’s corruption,” said House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler. “He is exploiting his office and making official U.S. government decisions for his personal financial gain.”

The House this year approved spending bills that included language banning the government from hosting the G-7 summit at Trump properties.

The Senate has not acted on those bills, but House Democrats said they’ll insist on the prohibition in any final legislation, saying Republicans will have to “choose whether to stand up to this blatant corruption or once again allow President Trump to violate basic norms and profit off the presidency.”

But forcing that fight could break an agreement House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Mr. Trump struck in July, where they settled on a two-year budget and agreed to a cease-fire on any new legislative riders.

Mr. Trump has maintained ownership of his business empire after becoming president, though he turned over day-to-day operations to his children.

Investigations by press outlets have found foreign governments have poured money into his properties since he took office. And Attorney General William Barr has scheduled his annual Christmas party for the Trump hotel in downtown Washington this year.

Those sorts of moves have spawned lawsuits arguing the payments are emoluments, violating the Constitution’s prohibition on profiting from the presidency.

“The Emoluments Clauses of the Constitution exist to prevent exactly this kind of corruption,” Mr. Nadler said in his statement Thursday.

He said his panel will “continue investigating, litigating and legislating” on the issue, but won’t let it distract from an ongoing impeachment inquiry regarding Ukraine and the 2020 election.

Mr. Mulvaney said the Doral will host the event “at cost” and will not profit from the event. He also noted that Mr. Trump doesn’t take a salary.

He insisted the site was the best place for the event and practically created for the G-7, contrasting it with limitation as places such as Camp David in Maryland.

“Some places don’t have the transportation that you need,” Mr. Mulvaney said. “There’s limitations at other places.”

Mr. Mulvaney said the G-7 hasn’t been held at Doral before because no one looked at it.

Mr. Trump was the first person to float the idea, Mr. Mulvaney said, recalling a meeting with advanced planners when he threw Doral into the mix. The chief of staff said aides viewed it as a decent idea.

Mr. Trump is thumbing his nose at Democrats in the middle of an impeachment inquiry over his interactions with Ukraine. The inquiry centers on Mr. Trump’s push to paint former Vice President Joseph R. Biden and his son Hunter as corrupt for allegedly allowing official business to bleed into business interests.

Mr. Mulvaney batted away claims that Mr. Trump can no longer make that case. He also said the White House “looks forward to participating in” the Democrats’ investigation.

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