Donald Trump cancelled his highly touted plan to host the 2020 Group of 7 Meeting at his Doral Golf Resort in Miami less than forty-eight hours after acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney announced that Doral was, “by far and away — far and away — the best physical facility for this meeting. In fact, declared Mulvaney, “it’s almost like they built this facility to host this type of event.”
After coming under withering criticism for this all too brazen display of graft and greed, Trump finally gainsaid his acting chief just last night in the midst of an ever-rising crescendo of criticism. In proposing to host the international summit — at government expense — at his privately owned and operated Miami resort, Trump has been widely accused of a very special and Constitutionally prohibited type of self-dealing: using his high office to enrich himself personally and soliciting and accepting “things” of value from foreign entities — clear violations of both the domestic and foreign “emoluments clauses” of the Constitution. This scale and the frequency of Trump’s and many of his closest advisers’ open and obvious fraud and generalized corruption have not been seen since The Gilded Age of the late 19th century.
‘‘Based on both Media & Democrat Crazed and Irrational Hostility,” Trump tweeted, “we will no longer consider Trump National Doral, Miami, as the Host Site for the G-7 in 2020.’’ His regime…er administration, ‘‘will begin the search for another site, including the possibility of Camp David, immediately.’’
This abrupt (and practically unprecedented) about-face by Trump fuels speculation as to Mulvaney’s continued usefulness to Trump. It was just last week in an also rare press conference, when Mulvaney gave a full-throated paen as to the qualities and conveniences of Doral. He claimed that he and his staff had chosen Doral only after visiting and assessing at least ten other possible sites across the country.
It was also in that press conference when Mulvaney ignited yet another firestorm by casually admitting to a quid pro quo between Trump’s withholding of military aid to Ukraine and Ukraine’s help in investigating Joe Biden, at the time the leading contender for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination next year.
Only hours later, after criticism from far and wide, Mulvaney tried to recant, retract and walk back his own clearly articulated and heard quid pro quo claims, amazingly denying that he had ever even contemplated, let alone actually said such a thing out loud.
It was Trump himself, though, who back in August first floated the idea of hosting the G-7 at his place, going so far as to give what may best be described as a real estate commercial complete with descriptions and praise for Doral’s “LOCATION!…LOCATION!….LOCATION!” Both Trump and Mulvaney pronounced and blessed Trump-Doral as the absolute perfect place for the G-7 meeting.
Both Mulvaney and later Trump declared that the criticism was unwarranted, that he would make no money from hosting the meeting because he would do the whole thing for “cost.” When asked what that meant in specific financial terms, Mulvaney demurred and refused to disclose any financial details whatsoever.
Noah Bookbinder, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, called Trump’s reversal Saturday ‘‘a bow to reality, but [it]does not change how astonishing it was that a president ever thought this was appropriate, or that it was something he could get away with.’’
Only minutes before Trump’s tweet, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden weighed in on the matter: ‘‘Hosting the G7 at Trump’s hotel? A president should never be able to use the office for personal gain,’’ the former vice president said.
As for hosting the G-7 soire´ at Camp David, the government-owned presidential retreat in nearby Maryland, Mulvaney had already earlier pooh-poohed that idea, even though past presidents have used it for all manner of large, medium, and small conferences, treaty-signings, meetings, and full-blown galas with all the ceremonial trimmings. Specifically, of Camp David, however, Mulvaney argued that, ‘‘I understand the folks who participated in it hated it and thought it was a miserable place to have the G-7.’’ He claimed that Camp David was just too small and too remote for an international summit of this magnitude.
None of the reasons offered by Trump or Mulvaney for cancelling the Doral “Project” pass the smell test.
Does anyone really believe that Democratic Party and “media” opposition/criticism “forced” Trump to abandon plans to orchestrate his own produced and directed, self-aggrandizing spectacle, and on the largest stage imaginable — the world stage? Au contraire, mon amie!….Democratic Party and media opposition usually have the opposite affect and effect on Donald Trump: he actually is invigorated by his opponents, digs in even deeper and double-triple-quadruples-down.
Rather, it’s being reported that a growing number of powerful Republican Party stalwarts, and even some of Trump’s closest acolytes, subalterns and sycophants were/are beginning to finally realize that, unlike the recent Mueller probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election (which was essentially controlled by a Trump-friendly Justice Department), this House of Representatives impeachment inquiry is something of a juggernaut, a completely different type of politico-legal animal. They are beginning to realize that the impeachment process is not particularly amenable or susceptible to Trump’s usual blusterings, misdirections, distractions, outright lies, and in-your-face obstruction tactics.
Indeed, though obscure and rarely if ever used, the emoluments clauses are in the Constitution for a reason: to protect the republic against just such a “president” as Donald Trump. They are clear and strictly enforceable. Violation of the emoluments clauses are among the “high crimes and misdemeanors” the Constitution specifically identifies and designates as impeachable offenses. Assigning and directing a huge government contract like the G-7 conference to himself…well, somebody in Trump Land must have realized that this was simply a bridge way too far and too high.