Faced with an escalating impeachment inquiry and the fallout from a disastrous capitulation to Turkey, not to mention years of criticism for lining one’s own pockets with taxpayer money, most people would probably try to lie low on the corruption front, at least for the time being. And then you have Donald Trump, who apparently surveyed the scene—the one in which his administration has literally admitted to extorting another country for political gain—and decided f–k it, let’s go for broke.
On Thursday, that entailed announcing that next year’s G7 summit, an event that draws hundreds of diplomats, security personnel, and reporters, will be held at the president’s very own Miami golf resort, the reportedly bedbug-infested Trump Doral.
Pressed about the obvious conflicts of interest inherent in hosting a massive government event that attracts worldwide attention at one of Trump’s for-profit clubs, Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney initially tried to claim that the administration had looked at other locations and none of them worked because some places have higher altitudes and because June is apparently a notoriously difficult month to plan an event. “There’s plenty of other good places in this country to hold a large event, there’s no question about it,” Mulvaney told reporters, pretending like the White House wasn’t always going to pick the president’s own resort.
“Some of the limitations, we wanted a specific time, we wanted it in early June, so that limits it a little bit,” Mulvaney explained. “Then there’s…there’s difficulties with going various places. Some places don’t have the transportation you need. I mean there was one place, I won’t say where it was, we were going to have to figure out if we were going to have oxygen tanks for the participants because of the altitude. So, yeah, there’s limitation in other places. We thought of the 12 places that we looked at, and you’d recognize the names of them if we told you what they were, that [Trump Doral] was by far and away the best choice.” He added, as if anyone was laboring under the impression that Trump hadn’t come up with the idea, that it was the president’s suggestion to host the event at his resort.
But what about the whole notion of, y’know, the president raking in a major chunk of change simply because he has the power to line his own pockets, reporters wondered. What about that? Trump “will not be profiting here,” Mulvaney claimed, naturally failing to explain how that would work, or when a man who once declared, “My whole life I’ve been greedy, greedy, greedy” received a personality transplant. Okay, but what about the optics of hosting the event, an insolent Fox News reporter asked. Oh well, the president has been working through this in therapy and is apparently now at peace with being known as an unrepentant con man. “He got over that a long time ago,” Mulvaney said. And what about the fact that hosting the G7 will bring priceless publicity to a struggling property—net operating income between 2015 and 2017 reportedly fell 69%—that a tax consultant for the company described as “severely underperforming”? Mulvaney is unaware of such problems, or how hosting the G7 would be a big boost to the property’s bottom line. “Donald Trump’s brand is strong as it is,” he insisted. “It’s the most recognized name in the English language.”
Strangely, those arguments didn’t go over too well outside the White House, where government watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington said in a statement, “This is unbelievable. 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. The president is now officially using the power of his office to help prop up his struggling golf business.”