Our President is all about getting ahead of the game. As the G7 Summit for 2019, in France, wrapped up, Monday, Aug. 26, President Trump told the attendees that he had found the perfect site for 2020 G7 Summit.
(Next year the United States is slated to host the Summit. The G7 includes: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, United Kingdom and the United States.)
The President promoted his perfect site to the G7 group in — what sounded like — an infomercial for his property in Florida — Trump National Doral Miami Golf Resort.
Ad-libbing, Trump, very smoothly, slid into a sales pitch.
“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. We have incredible conference rooms, incredible restaurants, it’s like such a natural. We wouldn’t even have to do the work that they did here (Biarritz, France), and they’ve done a beautiful job, they’ve really done a beautiful job.”
Explaining that “his people” had researched 12 other sites, Trump touted Doral as the finest one.
“And what we have also is Miami and we have many hundreds of acres so that in terms of parking, in terms of all of the things that you need. The ballrooms are among the biggest in Florida and the best, it’s brand new. And my people wanted it.” -NBC, Aug. 26.
Wow! Are you sold? Do you think that the six other world leaders are impressed? Really, it does sound quite opulent. Who can resist doing important international work at such a luxurious spot?
The President went on to explain that, “From my standpoint, I’m not going to make any money. In my opinion, I’m not going to make any money. I don’t want to make money. I don’t care about making money.”
Wait. That sounds as though the President is offering to host the summit at his own expense. Really? That would be great. Then we — the taxpayers — won’t be stuck with what has to be a rather pricey check for such fancy digs.
As great a gesture as that would be, it would still stand as a conflict of interest, even if the President did not make a penny off of the actual lodging. Assume that the President did provide the site free of charge, just the amount of free publicity his property would net could add up to some serious money. Thus, it could be considered gifts for services. Probably a situation best avoided.
Actually, I could not find any verification that the President is seriously planning to book his resort for the G7’s meeting free of charge to us taxpayers. Therefore, there is no question that the monies the President’s corporation would earn, would not only present an apparent conflict of interest, but also would breach the emoluments clause. (According to The Law Dictionary: Emolument is: “Any perquisite, advantage, profit, or gain arising from the possession of an office.”)
His position as U.S. President, affords Trump a corner on the political market on the international scene.
On Aug. 28, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., and Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., issued a statement indicating that the House Judiciary Committee plans to investigate Trump’s efforts to host the G7 meeting. (Nadler is House Judiciary Chairman and Cohen is the Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Chair.)
According to the statement, “The President’s personal financial interests are clearly shaping decisions about official U.S. government activities, and this is precisely the type of risk that the Constitution’s Emoluments Clauses were intended to prevent.”
The announcement stated that, “Hosting the G7 Summit at Doral implicates both the Foreign and Domestic Emoluments Clauses, because it would entail both foreign and U.S. government spending to benefit the President, the latter potentially including both federal and state expenditures.” — NBC, Aug. 28.
Obviously, it is hazardous for any nation’s leader to place monetary interests above that of the people he serves. The attraction of dollars could certainly cloud a leader’s judgement.
Even assuming all financial conflicts of interest could be resolved, Doral is probably not the most appropriate spot to host a summit that focuses on our world’s problems. The discrepancy between the sumptuous Miami site and the solemn international issues the G7 (Group of Seven) covers would be jarring. Topics the summit normally addresses include: trade, energy security, climate change, global health issues, gender equality, and poverty.
Somehow, luxuriating in a tropical resort seems an intense contrast to the problems that need solved.
As my spouse opined, “The summit should be a moment of gravitas, not a celebratory moment. It is not a time for escargot and champagne. It is not a debutante ball. The G7 will be addressing ‘end of the world’ issues — issues that can tip our world forward or backward.” -S. Nevada, Sept. 1.Presumably we want to progress — to move forward.
So, even if the House Judiciary Committee gives the President the green light on hosting the G7 at his Miami golf resort, the President should refuse. Instead, he should suggest Camp David, near Thurmont, Maryland, as the perfect spot. Camp David — a federal facility — has served as a site for presidential meetings with heads of states since 1938. Unlike private resorts, Camp David already has day-to-day security measures in place. Thus, less money would be required to ensure protection for the G7 Summit guests.
While it is not as sumptuous as Trump’s golf resort, it has served our nation well. Plus, it exudes a slightly more somber atmosphere — more appropriate for dealing with serious issues. Likely, it is comfortable. Its chefs are — or should be — capable of providing fine and varied menus. Yes, Camp David has a golf course where those attending the summit can unwind, socialize and perhaps even resolve some of the world’s issues.
Granted, Camp David may not live up to what the President is accustomed to, but the total bill for the three-day meeting will likely be less than for holding the summit at Doral.
It is egregious to bill taxpayers for so much luxury. It seems even more unacceptable if it is the nation’s leader who stands to make money at the taxpayers’ expense.