BIARRITZ, France — President Trump said Monday he was likely to hold next year’s Group of Seven summit in Doral, Fla. at his resort, meaning he would personally profit from one of the world’s most prestigious gatherings of foreign leaders.
Trump, appearing with German Chancellor Angela Merkel during a bilateral meeting at the G-7 conference, touted Trump National Doral for its proximity to the Miami Airport, among other reasons.
“They love the location of the hotel,” he said, adding it is near the airport. “We haven’t found anything that’s even close to competing with it. Really you can be there in a matter of minutes after you land.”
He went on to give a long commercial of sorts for the property, hailing its acres, separate buildings for different delegations and “great” conference rooms.
The president said a final decision had not been made.
Aides say Trump has sought for months to hold the summit there, but many of his advisers have warned against the idea, concerned about the ethics of the president profiting from an official government event.
Since taking office, Trump has faced pushback about his official visits to his properties from some of his aides, including inside the White House Counsel’s Office. They worried about the appearance that he was using the power of the presidency to direct taxpayer money into his own pockets, according to current and former White House officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations.
Trump has not divested from his private business interests and has regularly visited them during the presidency, eating out at his own hotel in D.C. and spending many weekends at his properties in New Jersey and Florida, where GOP officials often hold fundraisers.
In all, his scores of trips to his properties have brought his private businesses at least $1.6 million in revenue, from federal officials and GOP campaigns who pay to go where Trump goes, according to a Washington Post analysis this year.
The Constitution prohibits presidents from taking “emoluments,” or payments, from foreign states. Trump has continued to do business with foreign governments at his hotels — saying the Founders meant to ban outright bribes, not business transactions. But his company has also said they’re not actively seeking foreign governments as customers.
This is a sharp move in the opposite direction.
In this case, Trump is using his power as president to compel foreign officials — the six other leaders and their entourages — into becoming his customers. The Trump Organization did not immediately respond to an early-morning request for comment. The company says it donates all its profits from foreign governments to the U.S. Treasury, but has not explained exactly how it calculates “profit” in this case.
At Doral, which Trump has listed in federal disclosures as his biggest moneymaker hotel, room rates, banquets, golf and overall revenue were all down since 2015. In two years, the resort’s net operating income — a key figure, representing the amount left over after expenses are paid — had fallen by 69 percent.
The president continues to brag about his properties even in the Oval Office, associates say.