Trump Will Host Next G7 Summit at His Doral Resort

WASHINGTON — President Trump has decided to host the Group of 7 meeting next June at the Trump National Doral near Miami, Mick Mulvaney, the president’s acting chief of staff, said Thursday, a decision that prompted immediate questions about whether it was a conflict of interest for him to choose one of his own properties for a diplomatic event.

Mr. Mulvaney said the president had considered the possibility of the “political sort of criticism” in picking the resort. But he said Mr. Trump chose it anyway because administration officials had considered hotels throughout the country, and concluded that the Trump National Doral was “by far and away, far and away, the best physical facility for this meeting.”

“‘It’s almost like they built this facility to host this type of event,’” Mr. Mulvaney told reporters, quoting what he said an unnamed official told him during the planning process. And he dismissed any suggestion that the president would profit from the choice.

Mr. Mulvaney said the hotel would put on the summit “at cost.” “I think the president has pretty much made it very clear since he got here that he doesn’t profit from being here,” he said. “He has no interest in profit from being here.”

But House Democrats said the president’s choice of his own hotel was just the latest example of Mr. Trump using his office to promote his business interests.

“The administration’s announcement that President Trump’s Doral Miami resort will be the site of the next G7 summit is among the most brazen examples yet of the president’s corruption,” said Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, which is charged with drawing up articles of impeachment against the president.

“He is exploiting his office and making official U.S. government decisions for his personal financial gain,” Mr. Nadler said. “The emoluments clauses of the Constitution exist to prevent exactly this kind of corruption.”

He added that the committee would continue “pressing for answers to our prior requests about the G7 selection process.”

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who on Wednesday had a contentious exchange with the president over his decision to pull American troops from Syria, said Mr. Trump was violating long-established laws meant to protect against foreign influence.

“The Constitution is clear,” Ms. Pelosi wrote on Twitter, citing the emoluments clause. “The President cannot accept gifts or payments from foreign governments. No one is above the law.”

Legal experts said hosting the Group of 7 summit at the Doral might violate the Constitution in two ways.

First, the Constitution prohibits the president from accepting a gift or payment from a foreign government source, technically called a foreign emolument. And second, the president is prohibited from taking any kind of payment from the federal government that is beyond his salary.

Holding the summit there would effectively force government officials to pay the Trump family to stay at his resort, said Deepak Gupta, a constitutional lawyer who is already involved in two lawsuits accusing Mr. Trump of violating the Constitution by accepting foreign government payments at his hotels.

“Apparently, President Donald Trump no longer sees fit even to pretend that he is constrained by the law or the Constitution,” said Robert Weissman, the president of Public Citizen, a nonprofit group that has tracked millions of dollars in political and government spending at Trump hotels and resorts worldwide since 2017. “He doesn’t care to disguise his contempt for the rule of law.”

Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut, said Thursday evening that Democrats in Congress who have one of the pending lawsuits against Mr. Trump will now revise it to include the president’s plan to have the Group of 7 meeting at the Doral.

The Doral is operated by the Trump Organization, run on a day-to-day basis by the president’s sons Eric and Donald Trump Jr., since their father became president. But Mr. Trump has both frequented and promoted his properties throughout his time in the White House.

In Washington, Mr. Trump regularly meets supporters over dinner at the Trump International Hotel, which has become the most popular venue for political fund-raisers in the capital. And he has spent a total of 308 days since 2017 at one of his properties, or about a third of his days in office.

Over all, Mr. Trump has made visits to at least 13 of his family’s revenue-generating properties since he was sworn in, including golf courses in Ireland and Scotland, according to a tally by The New York Times. The most frequent location is the Mar-a-Lago club in Florida, followed by Trump National Golf Clubs in New Jersey and Virginia.

The use by Mr. Trump of his properties has drawn criticism as has that of other federal government employees who have stayed in Trump-owned hotels in the United States and overseas.

Questions were raised about the Pentagon spending $184,000 in the last two years paying for the Air Force to send dozens of flight crews making stopovers at an airport in Scotland to stay at the Trump Turnberry resort in Scotland.

And during a trip to Ireland in September, Vice President Mike Pence was criticized for staying at the Trump International Golf Links and Hotel in Doonbeg — a resort nearly an hour away from where Air Force Two was holding at the airport in Shannon. The president suggested that Mr. Pence stay there, according to Mr. Pence’s aides.

Mr. Mulvaney said that the president had made a similar suggestion when White House officials were discussing locations for the Group of 7.

“We sat around one night,” Mr. Mulvaney said. “We had the list, and he goes, ‘What about Doral?’ And it was like, that’s — that’s not the craziest idea.”

The Group of 7 meeting will be held in the middle of June, the off-season in South Florida when temperatures are often in the 80s and humid, and vacancy rates are high. Several event planners reached Thursday noted that the Trump Doral was certainly not the only resort in the United States that could handle an event like the Group of 7.

“There are lots of options in picking venues,” said Michelle Milligan, the president of the Society of Government Meeting Professionals. “We are a pretty large country.”

But the president had not made it a secret where he wanted to hold the summit. At this year’s Group of 7 summit, held in August in Biarritz in the south of France, Mr. Trump suggested the resort would be a “great place” to hold next year’s meeting.

“It’s got tremendous acreage, many hundreds of acres, so we can handle whatever happens,” Mr. Trump said. “People are really liking it and plus it has buildings that have 50 to 70 units. And so each delegation can have its own building.”

The president has been an active promoter of the hotel in the past. When the PGA Tour announced in 2016, while Mr. Trump was running for president, that it was moving its annual golf tournament — which had brought international attention to Doral for over five decades — to Mexico City, he reacted angrily.

“They’re moving it to Mexico City, which, by the way, I hope they have kidnapping insurance,” Mr. Trump said in an interview at the time on Fox.

But Doral has struggled financially since the Trump family bought the resort out of bankruptcy in 2012, reportedly paying $150 million for the property. More than $100 million in loans to help finance the project came from Deutsche Bank.

Financial documents obtained by The Times as part of tax appeals filed by the Trump Organization showed that the property lost $2.4 million in 2014. The Trump Organization has not disclosed profits in the last several years.

Still, Doral as of last year was the single biggest moneymaking asset, among the hotels, golf courses, office buildings and other properties owned by the Trump family. It generated $75.96 million in 2018, up from $74.76 million in revenue in 2017. But both of those figures are just overall revenue, not profits.

Local officials were not given a heads-up about the decision, and said holding a summit at the resort would be complicated given the proximity of the resort to major area roads, including two that are immediately adjacent to the resort and might need to be closed to ensure security.

“It is the middle of the metro area of Dade County,” said Rey Valdes, a spokesman for the Doral Police Department. “This will require a logistical feat. But with careful planning, I am confident we will be able to pull it off.”

Juan Carlos Bermudez, the mayor of Doral, noted the logistical feat, but said Thursday that he would leave questions surrounding potential conflicts of interests for the “Democrats and Republicans and pundits” to discuss.

“We are honored that it is being held here,” Mr. Bermudez said. “And the world will be able to see what Doral and South Florida are about.”