President Donald Trump reversed course and abandoned the plan to host next year’s Group of Seven summit at his Florida golf resort a little over 48 hours after the initial announcement that sparked a wave of bipartisan criticism. “I thought I was doing something very good for our country by using Trump National Doral, in Miami, for hosting the G-7 leaders,” Trump tweeted. “But, as usual, the hostile media & Democrat partners went CRAZY!” Trump did not waste the opportunity to talk up the resort’s features, including its “tremendous ballrooms & meeting rooms.”
Trump went on to write that “based on both Media & Democrat Crazed and Irrational Hostility, we will no longer consider Trump National Doral, Miami, as the Host Site for the G-7 in 2020.” The search is now on for a new site and Trump said Camp David was a possibility. Mick Mulvaney, the president’s acting chief of staff, said Sunday that Trump was “honestly surprised at the level of pushback” after the announcement. At the end of the day he still considers himself to be in the hospitality business,” Mulvaney told Fox News Sunday. Mulvaney had made the announcement Thursday saying the White House had reached a conclusion Doral was “far and away the best physical facility.”
Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle had been critical of the decision to use Trump’s property for such a key global summit. Democrats were quick to characterize the move as another instance of Trump using the presidency to enrich himself and promote his brand, while some Republicans also questioned the move. The criticism was hardly universal, though, as some staunch allies of the president defended the move. The White House had been defending the decision by saying Trump would host the summit at a cost, although how that would be calculated remained a secret. Ethics experts were also quick to say that simply running the event without profit would not necessarily mean that he was on the clear with the emoluments clause of the Constitution, which forbids the president from receiving gifts and money from foreign governments. Plus, the resort would have received tons of free publicity by simply hosting the summit.
Shortly before Trump’s reversal Saturday night, former Vice President Joe Biden criticized the president for the selection of his own resort to host the summit. “Hosting the G7 at Trump’s hotel? A president should never be able to use the office for personal gain,” Biden said.
Noah Bookbinder, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, characterized it as “astonishing” that the president thought he could get away with hosting the G-7 at his own resort. “President Trump’s decision to award the G-7 Conference to his own property was outrageous, corrupt and a constitutional violation. It was stunningly corrupt even for a stunningly corrupt administration,” Bookbinder said in a statement. “His reversal of that decision is a bow to reality, but does not change how astonishing it was that a president ever thought this was appropriate, or that it was something he could get away with.”