Toluse Olorunnipa, David A. Fahrenthold, and Jonathan O’Connell, reporting for The Washington Post:
President Trump has awarded the 2020 Group of Seven summit of
world leaders to his private company, scheduling the summit for
June at his Trump Doral golf resort in Miami, the White House
That decision is without precedent in modern American history: The
president used his public office to direct a massive contract to
Trump’s Doral resort — set among office parks near the Miami
airport — has been in sharp decline in recent years, according to
the Trump Organization’s own records. Its net operating income
fell 69 percent from 2015 to 2017; a Trump Organization
representative testified last year that the reason was Trump’s
Now, the G-7 summit will draw hundreds of diplomats, journalists
and security personnel to the resort during one of its slowest
months of the year, when Miami is hot and the hotel is often less
than 40 percent full. It will also provide a worldwide spotlight
for the club.
We’ve now reached the point where Trump’s kleptocracy is just out in the open. Any true believer in democratic norms would agree that the same ethical standards — not to mention laws — apply equally to everyone, regardless of their party. Democrats still believe this; there’s no way Democrats would stand for a president from their own party who used the office to line their own pockets. Nor would they stand for a president who used foreign policy as a cudgel to persuade other countries to open investigations into the president’s political rivals here in the U.S. Republicans’ continuing support for Trump is a rejection of democracy and the rule of law. It really is that simple.
Serious question: Shouldn’t the other G-7 nations refuse to attend? Attending — and spending their nation’s money at a Trump resort — will make them complicit in Trump’s kleptocracy. This is as much a violation of ethical norms — and the Constitution’s emoluments clause — as it would be if the summit were held at a neutral location but the other world leaders were expected to hand Trump envelopes stuffed with cash. Even if Trump were willing to foot the bill for the entire summit out of his own pocket — which, let’s face it, is not his style — it would still be grossly inappropriate and illegal on the grounds of the event’s significant promotional value alone.
Not quite as serious question: What happens if Trump is impeached (which is very likely) and removed from office before June? Do they still hold the summit at Doral? What a delightful problem that would be to have.
★ Thursday, 17 October 2019