This is probably going to go down as one of the shortest-lived “scandals” in the history of the Trump presidency. On Thursday, the White House Chief of Staff announced that next year’s G-7 summit would be held at President Trump’s Doral resort in Florida. That led to the usual screeching and rending of clothing from the peanut gallery but the impending national nightmare only lasted two days. Yesterday the President reversed course and said they would look for a new location. (NBC News)
Following widespread bipartisan criticism, President Donald Trump said Saturday his Doral resort in Florida would not host next year’s Group of Seven summit of world leaders after all.
“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,” he tweeted. “We will begin the search for another site, including the possibility of Camp David, immediately.”
The president had been under fire for the choice, announced Thursday by acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, because it could ultimately benefit him financially. Mulvaney said world leaders would be able to stay at his resort at cost.
This was one of the most surprising headlines of the year, at least to me. And that’s for a couple of reasons. First of all, since when does Donald Trump back down on any decision that he’s made, be it for better or for worse? Not very often. The President seems to enjoy a good fight more than actually winning the confrontation and if both the media and the Democrats wanted to complain about the G-7 being held at Doral, I’d assumed he’d be bashing them over it at rallies and fundraising off the kerfuffle.
The aspect of this “scandal” that makes it even more surprising is that it should have been such an easy fight to win. There’s no denying the fact that if the Doral had been booked for the summit in a “business as usual” fashion it could, at least in theory, put some extra cash from foreign world leaders in the Trump family’s coffers. So the emoluments clause would have been in play, at least enough to give the press something else to complain about for a few months.
But the Doral could have offered to host the event without charging the visiting world leaders anything and written their expenses off as a loss. The prestige of hosting the event would likely still be more than enough for them and they’d likely have made up the loss through increased traffic. (Surely some people would be interested in booking a suite just to watch the comings and goings.)
Some sort of deal along those lines would have swung the ball back into Trump’s court, allowing him to justifiably claim that he was saving the taxpayer’s money. Going to Camp David is going to run up a bill footed by the voters. (Granted, the amount of money we’re talking about in comparison to the national budget isn’t even a rounding error, but the principle still stands.)
Besides, it’s not as if these summits haven’t been held in posh, privately owned locations on a regular basis. Last year when Justin Trudeau was hosting, the event was held at Hotel Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu, a world-class, luxury resort in Quebec. And while Trudeau may not own the resort personally, if you don’t think the actual owners aren’t players on the political field you’re fooling yourself.
This reversal leaves me pondering just where things stand in the Oval Office these days. Exit question(s): Is Trump privately getting worried about the ongoing impeachment follies to the point where he didn’t want to toss any more ammunition to Pelosi and company? And if so, did somebody steer him away from this idea… perhaps Rudy?