This is interesting on the merits but also interesting in that two of the most powerful platforms in right-wing media are promoting it.
I suppose one could argue that Trump handing the G7 to his own business isn’t a textbook emolument since it doesn’t really function as a bribe, which is what the constitutional ban is all about. We don’t want the president receiving fat envelopes from foreign dignitaries for fear that that’ll influence his views on foreign policy. Imagine if, say, the president of Ukraine could curry favor with POTUS by telling him that he recently paid for the privilege of staying in one of his luxurious properties in the United States. That would look like petty bribery! Hosting a summit of world leaders like the G7 where attendance by the member nations is compulsory doesn’t work the same way. The president is still enriched, but no one’s purchasing any special favor from him by being there.
It’s not even clear that Trump will profit from the event if in fact he ends up hosting the event at cost, as Mick Mulvaney claimed earlier today.
But of course Napolitano’s read is defensible too. By handing the G7 to Trump National Doral, Trump is brazenly using the leverage he has over foreign policy by dint of his office to line his own pockets with foreign government money. Profit might not be necessary; revenue might be enough. Even if there’s no profit, the PR generated for the resort by its role in the G7 is doubtless worth millions. The corruption is so flagrant, the optics are so poor, that Pelosi and Nadler must be tempted to add it to the eventual articles of impeachment as a gross violation of the Emoluments Clause. That would complicate their messaging on impeachment since it’s supposed to be all about Ukraine and quid pro quos, but the public is likely to view his G7 move as so blatantly improper that there’s really no downside to Dems in tossing it in there. At the very least, it’ll force Senate Republicans to offer some uncomfortable explanations after they acquit Trump as to why self-dealing on this scale somehow doesn’t warrant removal from office.
I mean, look at what this poor defeated chump has been reduced to in order to cover for the president:
Rubio said he's not sure Trump's hotel would really make money anyway with an event like the G7, and says others in the area will benefit too.
— Steven Dennis (@StevenTDennis) October 17, 2019
There are no other properties in the state of Florida that might have sufficed for the G7 and which wouldn’t have involved fattening up the president’s bank account, Marco? Between this and how he spun Trump’s comments a few weeks ago about China investigating Hunter Biden, it’s clear that Rubio has essentially checked out of politics. He’ll defend Trump dutifully as needed but his defenses will be conspicuously phoned-in.
Like I say, the clip is also interesting for how it’s being promoted. With Shep Smith’s departure, one might have expected the Fox networks to begin steering towards even more ardent Trump-worship. And it would have been fair to assume that Andrew Napolitano, whose comments about Trump ignited the Shep/Tucker spat that led to Smith leaving, might either lie low or tone it down. Nope: Here’s Napolitano swinging away on Fox Business with full encouragement from Neil Cavuto, who, if anything, may be turning more aggressive in challenging Trump spin now that Shep is gone. So Fox is willing to let its personnel punish Trump for the G7 thing. And Matt Drudge is willing to help: As I write this at 6:45 p.m. ET, this very clip is highlighted in red font at the top of the Drudge Report, the latest example of surprisingly harsh coverage of Trump on a webpage that normally leans right. Is Drudge pro-impeachment? Or is Drudge reacting in this particular instance to the fact that Trump awarding the G7 to his own property is egregiously, cartoonishly improper, maybe anticipating that his readers will be outraged too?
By the way, speaking of Fox, Megyn Kelly’s return to the network last night on Tucker Carlson’s show drew bombshell ratings, crushing even Hannity and Rachel Maddow with more than four million viewers. Conveniently, Fox is now looking for a news anchor to host Shep’s 3 p.m. slot. Hmmm!