Washington (AFP) – US President Donald Trump has awarded hosting of the next G7 summit to one of his own Florida golf clubs, the White House said on Thursday, sparking accusations of corruption from opposition lawmakers and ethics campaigners.
The Trump National Doral Golf Club in Miami was “the best place” among a dozen US venues considered for the June 10-12 gathering next year, acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney told reporters at the White House.
But some members of Congress and civil society groups immediately rebuked Trump for what Democrats called “among the most brazen examples yet of the president’s corruption.”
“He is exploiting his office and making official US government decisions for his personal financial gain,” Jerry Nadler, the chairman of the powerful House Judiciary Committee, said in a statement.
Nadler vowed that Trump’s “latest abuse of power” would not distract from the Democratic-led impeachment investigation into allegations that the president pressured Ukraine into interfering on his behalf in the 2020 US election.
Democrats were already probing Trump’s suggestion at the most recent G7 gathering in France in August that the next one could be hosted at one of his resorts.
Critics say the move would violate both the foreign and domestic emoluments clauses that are designed to shield a US leader from outside influence.
– ‘Abusing the presidency’ –
“This is unbelievable,” Noah Bookbinder, the executive director of the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington pressure group, said in a statement.
“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.”
Trump National Doral is vital to Trump’s overall finances and was once one of his biggest money-makers — but it has been in steep decline, according to the Washington Post.
The newspaper reported in May that the resort’s net operating income — the amount left after expenses are paid — had fallen by 69 percent in two years.
“The president is now officially using the power of his office to help prop up his struggling golf business. There appears to be no bottom to President Trump’s corruption,” Bookbinder added.