[guest post by Dana]
Article I, Section 9, Clause 8 of the U.S. Constitution prohibits any person holding a government office from accepting any present, emolument, office, or title from any “King, Prince, or foreign State,” without congressional consent. This clause is meant to prevent external influence and corruption of American officers by foreign States. A similar provision was included in the Articles of Confederation, applicable to both federal and state officers. The language of the modern clause, however, suggests that only federal government officials are prohibited from accepting any emoluments.
President Trump insists he wouldn’t profit financially from hosting next year’s G-7 meeting Trump National Doral Miami Golf Resort:
The US is next up to host the G7 in 2020. Trump said while he hasn’t made a final decision on where to host the summit, officials “haven’t found anything that’s even close to competing with it.”
Trump… highlighted the pros of hosting the summit at his club, saying that it could “handle whatever happens” and repeated several times that it is a short drive to Miami’s international airport.
Trump is sure to receive criticism if he goes through with the idea and will face questions about whether he stands to profit financially from the large summit. Trump has received such criticism in the past for hosting foreign leaders, including China’s President Xi Jinping, at his Mar-a-Lago Golf Club in Florida.
…Trump defended the possibility of hosting the next G7 summit at the golf club and claimed he will not make any money from hosting, adding, “It’s not about me, it’s about getting the right location.”
Trump told reporters he “couldn’t care less” about making money. “The only thing I care about is this country,” Trump added.
Trump said that the administration has looked at 12 different sites for the summit, but said his Doral-Miami club is the best choice in terms of location and infrastructure.
“My people wanted it,” Trump said about the club, adding, “I’m not going to make any money.”
Trump also stressed that the large club and resort could easily accommodate the large presence of G7 leaders, delegations and press.
In spite of Trump insisting that he doesn’t care about money [Ed. eye-roll…], and wouldn’t profit from hosting the G-7, there are certainly very real concerns about hosting the summit at Doral:
Hosting the G7 Summit — consisting of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States — at any of his properties would exacerbate claims that Trump is profiting from the presidency in violation of the so-called Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Trump is already facing lawsuits over similar allegations, primarily about his hotel in Washington, D.C.
Not everyone in his orbit is on board with the idea, citing ethical concerns:
The Washington Post reports that Trump has long pushed to hold next year’s G7 at the Doral but has seen some internal resistance from people concerned about the ethics of such a decision. The problem is that Trump has never divested from his company, the Trump Organization, meaning he would personally profit from the summit’s coming to the Doral.
He dismissed the concerns speaking to reporters Monday. “In my opinion, I’m not going to make any money,” he said. He added that being president costs him between $3 billion and $5 billion a year, a claim he said he would soon back up with evidence.
Here’s a look at how Doral is performing, and it’s not good news:
Trump’s presidency so far seems to have harmed Trump Doral’s bottom line. In a meeting with a magistrate for the Miami-Dade Value Adjustment Board in December 2018, a consultant hired by the Trump Organization said the hotel is “severely under-performing.” The consultant cited lower occupancy and room rates at the Doral hotel compared to its competitors and an 18 percent slump in revenue from 2015 to 2017 as reasons to lower the property’s value.
Given that, it’s easy to see how hosting the G-7 next year might benefit the resort, and turn its fortunes around:
Beyond the money paid directly to the club to cover the costs of hosting an international event, iconic visits to Mar-a-Lago, like the 2017 summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping, helped increase international tourism to the property, bringing in a steady, albeit small, stream of revenue to the then-struggling property.
P.S. Trump also said that he would invite Putin to next year’s G-7, which would be permissible because host countries can invite any world leaders to attend, even if they are not members of the G-7:
“Would I invite him? I would certainly invite him. Whether or not he could come psychologically, I think that’s a tough thing for him to do,” Trump said during a press conference at the close of this weekend’s G-7 summit in France.
Russia was expelled in 2014 from what was then the G-8 over its annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula. It has faced additional international backlash for interfering in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and poisoning a former spy living in the United Kingdom.
But Trump has in each of the last two years floated readmitting Russia to the group.
“I think it would be better to have Russia inside the tent than outside the tent,” Trump said Monday. “Do we live either way? Yes, we live either way. Is it politically popular for me to say that? Possibly not.”
(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)