The G7 Summit in 2020 would be held at President Donald Trump's golf resort in Florida and would cost half the amount than hosting the event at another place, the White House has claimed, rejecting criticism that he "used" his public office to secure big contract for himself.
Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney told reporters on Thursday that the 46th G7 Summit, a grouping that comprises of world's largest developed economies, would be held from June 10 through June 12 at the Trump National Doral facility in Miami, Florida.
Mulvaney asserted that this was the best place to host such a summit of G7 country leaders from France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the US, the United Kingdom and Canada and it would cost half the amount than hosting at another place.
He said that the Trump National Doral facility was selected from a short list of 12 places, including those in California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Michigan, North Carolina, Tennessee and Utah.
“It became apparent at the end of that process that Doral was, by far and away the best physical facility for this meeting,” he said.
However, the decision drew immediate reaction from the media.
The Washington Post, in its report, said, “that decision is without precedent in modern American history: The president used his public office to direct a huge contract to himself.”
The report said that according to Trump organization's own records, the Doral resort has been in sharp decline in recent years. Its net operating income fell 69 per cent from 2015 to 2017; a Trump Organization representative testified last year that the reason was Trump's damaged brand.
“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 per cent full. It will also provide a worldwide spotlight for the club,” the daily said.
“Trump's decision to select his own resort as host of the international gathering is a sign that he is becoming more brazen about flouting criticism from Congress and shattering ethical norms that have been observed by previous presidents with regard to separating the duties of their office from their financial well-being,” the report said.
According to The Guardian newspaper, anti-corruption groups have condemned the move.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington said the move was “unbelievable”, especially in the light of ongoing impeachment efforts against Trump, the report said.
Mulvaney clarified that Trump would not be making any profit by organising the event at his golf resort.
“He is not making any money off of this, just like he's not making any money from working here. If you think it's going to help his brand, that's great. But I would suggest that he probably doesn't need much help promoting his brand, so we'll put the profit aside and deal with a perfect place,” he said.
The focus of the event will be global growth and challenges to the global economy, specifically dealing with things like rejuvenating incentives for growth and prosperity; rolling back prosperity-killing regulations; ending trade barriers; and re-opening energy markets, he said.
“So, taking a lot of what we have been doing here domestically with such success and trying to encourage the rest of the world to get onboard as we sit here and our economy does so well. You look all across the world right now, and the rest of the world is either at or near recession,” Mulvaney said.
“We really do think that we have hit on a formula that works not only here but that would work overseas, where we take the G7 as the opportunity to try and convince other nations that they can have the same successes by following the same model,” he said.
The US hosted the last G-7 summit at Camp David, about 109 kms away from Washington, about a decade ago.
“I understand the folks who participated in it hated it and thought it was a miserable place to have the G7. It was way too small. It was way too remote. My understanding is this media didn't like it because you had to drive an hour on a bus to get there either way,” Mulvaney said.