US President Donald Trump has decided to hold next year’s G7 summit at his Doral golf resort in Miami, sparking criticism that he could gain from hosting world leaders at his property.
Mick Mulvaney, acting White House chief of staff, said Mr Trump decided on Doral, which is part of the Trump Organization, after considering three other locations in Utah and Hawaii.
Asked why Doral was the only place Mr Trump thought was appropriate to host the leaders of the G7 nations, Mr Mulvaney said: “It is not the only place. It is the best place.”
Mr Mulvaney said some locations that were considered had limitations that included issues with timing or providing transportation for the leaders, who travel with large entourages.
“There was one place, I won’t say where it was, where we actually had to figure out if we’re going to have to have oxygen tanks for the participants because of the altitude.”
Mr Mulvaney said one of the benefits of Doral was that the resort was about 900 acres, which would allow all of the G7 activities to be contained within one enclosed area.
During a briefing with reporters, Mr Mulvaney said Mar-a-Lago, another Trump resort in Florida, was on the final list of locations, before correcting himself. “Mar-a-Lago was not close to being sufficient for the G7.” Mr Trump has used Mar-a-Lago to host leaders such as Chinese president Xi Jinping and Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe.
The announcement about Doral came just days after a federal appeals court revived a lawsuit that claims Mr Trump’s ownership of the Trump Hotel in Washington DC violates the constitution’s emoluments clause, which bars US officials from taking gifts from foreign governments.
The lawsuit, brought by Maryland and the District of Columbia, claims Mr Trump is unlawfully profiting when foreign dignitaries visit the US capital and stay at his hotel. Mr Trump initially prevailed in the case, but the US court of appeals for the 4th circuit has agreed to hear the lawsuit again.
The president also faces two other emoluments lawsuits — one brought by private parties and another by congressional Democrats who argue the constitution requires Congress to sign off any foreign payments to Mr Trump, including foreign money earned by his businesses.
Reports that the G7 summit would take place at Trump Doral first surfaced earlier this year, and in August, Mr Trump argued in favour of holding the meeting there, touting its proximity to the airport, “very luxurious rooms” and “incredible conference rooms.”
The House judiciary committee said in response to the president’s comments in August that it would investigate the proposal. Its chairman, Jerrold Nadler, a Democrat from New York, said: “The president’s personal financial interests are clearly shaping decisions about official US government activities, and this is precisely the type of risk that the Constitution’s Emoluments Clauses were intended to prevent”.
The Trump Doral golf resort was also the site at which a violent video that depicted Mr Trump shooting and stabbing his political opponents was reportedly shown to a group of the president’s supporters. Mr Trump’s campaign said it did not produce the video, adding: “We do not condone violence.”
-Additional reporting by Mamta Badkar in New York and Lauren Fedor in Washington
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