President Donald Trump came under fire from ethics watchdog groups, Democratic lawmakers, and other critics Thursday after Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney confirmed to reporters that the president will host the Group of 7 meeting next June at the Trump National Doral Miami golf resort in Florida.
"This is unbelievable," declared Noah Bookbinder, executive director of the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). "Given the potential consequences the president is facing for abusing the presidency for his own gain, we would have thought he would steer clear of blatant corruption at least temporarily; instead he has doubled down on it."
— MoveOn (@MoveOn) October 17, 2019
The announcement from Mulvaney came after Trump, in August, teased the possibility of hosting leaders of world's seven largest advanced economies at his resort near Miami, suggesting that Secret Service preferred that location for the G7 meeting. The president's comments prompted CREW to request records from the city of Doral and Secret Service.
Mulvaney, quoting an unnamed official, said during a press briefing that "it's almost like they built this facility to host this type of event." Mulvaney added about potential conflicts of interest that "the president has made it clear since he's been here that he hasn't profited since he's been here."
"The president is now officially using the power of his office to help prop up his struggling golf business," Bookbinder said Thursday. "There appears to be no bottom to President Trump's corruption. What matters most to him is his personal profit and personal advancement, not the best interests of the American people. There is now no question that the American government is being used as a public relations and marketing subsidiary of the Trump Organization."
Bookbinder's criticism was echoed by other ethics experts, including former director of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics and current CREW senior adviser Walter Shaub:
This is the most overt corruption to date. How any Senator could fail to object to this is beyond me. There's no universe in which anyone could believe that, in a country as big as ours, the selection of Trump's resort was anything but a product of the worst kind of corruption. https://t.co/bntG2ozeti
— Walter Shaub (@waltshaub) October 17, 2019
Karen Hobert Flynn, president of the nonprofit Common Cause, charged in a statement that with this announcement, "President Trump's contempt for the United States Constitution is laid bare again."
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"The growing list of abuses of the powers of the presidency are what we expect of Vladimir Putin or a Third World dictator—not the president of the United States," Hobert Flynn said. "Trump's actions are not only beneath the dignity of the office, they are a violation of the emoluments clause of the Constitution, which prohibits the president from receiving payments from foreign governments. We hope the courts will act expeditiously to curb these abuses along with the myriad other violations of the emoluments clause that have already been challenged."
Journalist Judd Legum tweeted, "Let's be clear: By deciding to hold the G7 summit at his own resort, Trump is STEALING MONEY FROM TAXPAYERS."
Democratic lawmakers quickly piled on, denouncing the decision as "an abuse of power" and "another violation of our Constitution."
This G-7 announcement is corrupt. It's a violation of the Constitution. It's an abuse of power. And Congress can shut it down. I'm introducing a bill first thing next week to stop this corruption in it's tracks. More to come...
— Senator Jeff Merkley (@SenJeffMerkley) October 17, 2019
Trump doesn’t even try to hide his corruption. This is another use of foreign policy for his personal gain, and it’s another violation of our Constitution. https://t.co/h74IKMgl3o
— Rep. Ilhan Omar (@Ilhan) October 17, 2019
This is corruption, plain and simple. https://t.co/NnizsfK0dC
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) October 17, 2019
Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said in a statement that the move "is among the most brazen examples yet of the president's corruption."
"He is exploiting his office and making official U.S. government decisions for his personal financial gain," said Nadler, whose committee is one of six involved with the Democrats' impeachment inquiry into the president. "The Emoluments Clauses of the Constitution exist to prevent exactly this kind of corruption."
Nadler vowed that the Judiciary Committee "will continue investigating, litigating, and legislating regarding these matters—including pressing for answers to our prior requests about the G7 selection process—but we will not allow this latest abuse of power to distract from Congress' efforts to get to the bottom of the president's interference in the 2020 election."