The next G-7 summit, which is due to be held in the U.S., will take place at Doral, the luxury resort Trump owns in Florida. It was the decision to hold the summit there that Mick Mulvaney was explaining and defending before he unwisely decided to spar with reporters over the temporary withholding of aid to Ukraine.
According to Mulvaney, Doral was added to the list of about a dozen facilities for consideration at Trump’s suggestion. The decision as to which facility on the list to select was made by a White House team after visiting and analyzing each facility.
Mulvaney said that Doral will host the G-7 at cost. In other words, Doral will make no profit off of the event. If the White House is true to its word, the participating nations, and presumably the media outlets that cover the conference, will save a fair amount of money.
Democrats and their media pals are blasting Trump for this decision. They have not demonstrated, however, that Doral will make money or that there was an available alternative facility that would have been as desirable as Doral in terms of accommodations, location, etc.
During the Mulvaney presser, reporters complained that even if Doral doesn’t make a profit, holding the G-7 there will enhance Trump’s “brand” or at least make it more visible. I doubt it. Trump’s brand is about as visible as it can get. The public’s view of the Trump brand — whether positive or negative — is surely fixed by now.
If he’s not gaining monetarily or image-wise, why did Trump recommend Doral as a possible venue for the G-7 meeting? I can think of two reasons in addition to Doral’s merit, both of which might well have been in his mind.
First, he’s proud of Doral and wants to show it off to world leaders. Second, he wants to say “f-you” to his critics.
The fallback position of these critics is that, although Trump may not profit from the use of Doral, his decision gives the appearance of impropriety. To be sure, Trump has never worried about appearing to act improperly.
But if Trump won’t profit from the decision — if all he gains is a little of personal satisfaction — I don’t see why there’s even an appearance of impropriety.
UPDATE: A reader informs me of Scott Adams’s take on the selection of Doral. Adams, I’m told, says that there will be a strategic advantage to the United States from having this meeting take place on Trump’s home turf — that is, in a setting familiar to and controlled by Trump, as opposed to a more neutral venue in the U.S. Trump understands this, which is why he raised the idea of holding the summit at Doral.
This take is plausible, and certainly more so than the notion that Trump is trying to line his pockets.