On Thursday, President Trump followed through on a plan months in the making and announced that he would schedule the 2020 Group of 7 summit at a Miami-area property owned by his family business. Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney confirmed during a press conference that Trump has decided to host the event at the Trump National Doral Miami, a sprawling resort owned by the Trump Organization.
The right to choose the location of the annual G-7 summit rotates between the seven member countries and the European Union. The conference of foreign leaders from the world's most advanced economies typically brings massive revenue to the host location, via lodging and meals for the dignitaries and their hundreds of staff members. Next year's event will take place June 10-12, 2020.
"This appears to be the first time in American history that a president has given such a massive contract to himself," The Washington Post reported. Trump had said in August at the end of this year's summit in France that the Doral resort would likely be chosen to host next year's event, saying it'd make a great location for the gathering because of its proximity to a large international airport. "My people looked at 12 sites — all good, but some were two hours from an airport, some were four hours," he said. "With Doral, we have a series of magnificent buildings, we call them bungalows. They each hold from 50 to 70 very luxurious rooms with magnificent views. ... It's like, such a natural."
The decision wasn't officially announced until Mulvaney's appearance Thursday. Mulvaney insisted that Trump would not profit from the location choice, saying the event would be hosted "at cost" and that holding it at the Doral property would actually save the U.S. "millions" of dollars and could lead to "roughly 50 percent savings" — though he declined to provide specific numbers explaining that claim, CNBC noted. He additionally said that the administration had explored hosting the event at the Doral at no cost before eventually concluding that plan was "not possible," per NBC News.
Mulvaney said that White House staff had evaluated about a dozen locations, echoing Trump's August remarks. The other possible sites included locations in Colorado, Tennessee, and Utah, but Trump's Miami resort was deemed the "best physical facility for this meeting," he said. He also rejected the idea that Trump might benefit from the brand exposure by saying that the president's "brand is probably strong enough as it is and doesn't need any more help on that."
In deflecting charges from reporters that Trump forcing world leaders and their extensive government entourages to spend money at one of his properties might violate the Constitution's foreign emoluments clause, Mulvaney turned attention to the president's baseless charges of malfeasance on the part of Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter in their dealings with Ukraine. "There's not profit here," Mulvaney said, but "clearly there's profit with the Bidens." There is in fact no evidence Biden benefited from his son's position on the board of a Ukrainian gas company.
When President George W. Bush chose the location for the 2004 summit, he held the event at a secluded resort in Sea Island, Georgia. President Barack Obama opted for Maryland, choosing the government property Camp David in 2012. Last month, Quartz reported that were Trump an official of the executive branch other than the president, "his participation in a procurement for which his own company was competing would be a crime under two conflict of interest laws."
The Doral resort is "severely underperforming," the Post reported over the summer, citing Trump Organization representatives. While singing the property's praises in August in floating it for the summit's location, Trump said that he wouldn't be making money from such a move "in my opinion."