President Donald Trump announced late Saturday that he will not use his Doral golf resort in Miami for the G-7 summit next year, reversing course after the decision drew swift condemnation from Democratic and Republican lawmakers.
“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,” Trump posted on Twitter shortly before 10 p.m. ET Saturday. “We will begin the search for another site, including the possibility of Camp David, immediately.”
In announcing the Doral pick just days earlier, White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney described the resort as “the best place” to host the leaders of the world’s most industrialized economies. Mulvaney tried to head off criticism about the propriety of using one of the president’s properties, saying it was well suited for the summit.
Republicans expressed relief Saturday.
Former White House press Secretary Ari Fleischer simply tweeted: “Good call.”
Bradley Moss, a national security lawyer, tweeted:
“Wow, the pressure from within the Republican caucus must have been immense for him to so quickly back off.”
Several analysts said the sudden reversal reflects Trump’s concerns about holding Republican support as impeachment heats up.
Tony Schwartz, who ghost wrote Trump’s “The Art of the Deal,” tweeted.
“Trump never admits being wrong on anything. Now, after fierce criticism for clear self-dealing, he says he won’t hold G-7 at his own hotel after all. One more sign that he is feeling threatened and running scared.”
Matt Mackowiak, a veteran GOP consultant, said the reason for the backtrack was clear: “Loss of Republican support and he never does anything at cost.”
Mulvaney had initially dismissed Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland. President Barack Obama held the meeting there in 2012.
Where the White House could look next: The other finalists for G-7 were two sites in Utah and one in Hawaii, Mulvaney said Thursday. Mulvaney said the White House advance team surveyed 10 locations, in California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Michigan, North Carolina, Tennessee and Utah.
Democrats swiftly denounced the Doral pick as nothing more than self-dealing that involves the nation’s foreign policy. They pointed out Trump is making the move as his campaign hammers away on the notion that Democratoc rival Joe Biden’s son Hunter profited from his father’s role as vice president during the Obama administration.
“This is corruption, plain and simple,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., one of the Democratic presidential candidates, tweeted at the time.
Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said he would investigate what he called the “most brazen” example of how the president violates the emoluments clause of the U.S. Constitution. Trump faces several lawsuits questioning whether foreign leaders staying at his properties is a violation of the clause.
“He is exploiting his office and making official U.S. government decisions for his personal financial gain,” Nadler said at the time.
Democrats weren’t alone in balking at the move. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, told reporters it was not appropriate to use taxpayer dollars at a Trump resort.
“You have to go out and try to defend him. Well, I don’t know if I can do that!” Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, told the Washington Post. “I have no doubt that Doral is a really good place – I’ve been there, I know. But it is politically insensitive. They should have known what the kickback is going to be on this, that politically he’s doing it for his own benefit.”
The G-7 will take place June 10-12, 2020, less than five months before the U.S. presidential election in which Trump seeks a second term.
The G-7 is a high-profile, annual gathering of leaders from the world’s largest industrialized economies: the United States, Italy, Japan, France, the United Kingdom, Canada and Germany. The most recent took place in August in the resort town of Biarritz, France.
Mulvaney initially appeared to dismiss Camp David out of hand.
“I understand the folks who participated in it hated it and thought it was a miserable place to have the G-7,” he said. “It was way too small. It was way too remote. My understanding is this media didn’t like it because you had to drive an hour on a bus to get there either way.”
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