Yesterday evening Donald Trump succumbed to pressure and reversed a decision to host next year’s G7 summit at his own Trump National Doral Golf Club in Miami. He blamed Democrats and the press for “Crazed and Irrational Hostility” in a tweet thread announcing his reversal.
As Trump feels the heat of an impeachment inquiry into his Ukraine dealings, the move will stop another showdown with political opponents over his use of the presidential office for personal profit and self-dealing. Noah Bookbinder, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, told the AP that Trump’s reversal was “a bow to reality.” And indeed, lawmakers were getting real about the president’s hosting plans.
On Oct. 18, House Democrats, including Lois Frankel of Florida, proposed the Trump’s Heist Undermines the G-7 (THUG) bill, legislation designed to block Trump’s plans to host the summit of world leaders at his resort. Democratic senators were planning to introduce a companion bill in the upper house.
The president, for his part, claims that hosting the summit at his hotel was “something very good for our Country.” Even as he withdrew the plan, he insisted that there was nothing wrong with the idea. Trump pointed out on Twitter that his resort was near Miami’s airport and had “hundreds of acres…tremendous ballrooms and meeting rooms” and would have allowed each delegation ample space. Trump also said that he would only have charged the delegates “cost” to stay at his hotel.
Putting aside the question of whether it’s appropriate for a president to pressure world leaders to spend money at his personal business, there are other drawbacks about the Doral to consider. In August, when talk of Trump’s plans to hold the economic summit his hotel were making headlines, so was the lawsuit involving the hotel that the business settled. The Miami Herald reported that in July 2016 an insurance executive sued the Doral “after his back, face, and arms were devoured by voracious bedbugs” during a stay there that year. The claim was settled out of court in 2017. But people on Twitter reminded the president of the bedbugs after his announcement to host the event elsewhere anyway.
The Doral is also struggling financially and the June summit would have brought guests during just the season when people leave South Florida for more pleasant climes. According to the New York Times, the Trump family bought the resort out of bankruptcy in 2012, paying $150 million for the property, and has since borrowed more than $100 million from Deutsche Bank to finance the hotel.
In other words, it seems Trump’s property could have used the additional business the G7 would have brought in, if only the president could have convinced the American people that what works for him, works for all. But members of his party have also been critical of a decision to host the G7 at the Doral. “In the law, there’s a canon that says, avoid the appearance of impropriety,” Republican representative Francis Rooney of Florida told reporters on Friday. “I think that would be better if he would not use his hotel for this kind of stuff.”