U.S. President Donald Trump was surprised by the strong controversy generated by his plan to hold in one of its golf clubs the next summit of leaders of the G7, because “he believes he is still in the business of hospitality,” the White House said Sunday.
The interim chief of staff of the White House, Mick Mulvaney, tried to explain what led the former real estate magnate to choose his golf club in Miami (Florida) as the site of the annual G7 summit in 2020, and to announce three days later that finally the appointment would be held elsewhere in the United States.
“He was truly surprised by the degree of controversy” generated by the Trump National Doral selection, Mulvaney said in an interview on Fox News Sunday.
“After all, (Trump) still thinks he’s in the hospitality business, and he saw an opportunity to host the world’s top leaders, and he wanted to put on the best show he could, the best visit he could, and the idea of doing it at Doral gave him a lot of confidence,” he added.
The program’s host, Chris Wallace, then asked why Trump believes he is still in the hospital business if he is the president of the United States, and Mulvaney replied that everyone has some of his previous “experience,” and the president “is in the hotel business, or at least he was.
Mulvaney, who was responsible for announcing last Thursday the selection of the Trump golf club as the host of the next summit, let it be seen that the president still does not understand why his decision caused a stir, although he knows “that people think that gives a very bad impression” regarding conflicts of interest.
Trump announced in a Tuit on Saturday that he was reversing his plan to hold the G7 in his club “due to the crazy and irrational hostility of the media and democrats.
The president said his club was “better than other alternatives” and that he was willing to organize the G7 there “without ANY BENEFIT or, if legally possible, with ZERO COST to the United States”.
When he won the election in 2016, the former real estate magnate ceded control of the Trump Organization to his two older sons, but he did not liquidate his interests in those businesses, and his term has been peppered with signs that he could make a profit from his office.
The G7 announcement was singled out by government ethics experts as the most glaring example of a possible conflict of interest, especially since Trump National Doral’s revenues have fallen 69% in the last two years and the summit organization there would have helped to revive the business.
But although Trump justified his decision by the criticisms of the Democratic opposition, the truth is that several members of his own party had already criticised him for having chosen Doral for the G7.
For many Republicans who were balancing to defend both Trump’s pressures on Ukraine that may merit a political trial and his order to withdraw US troops from northern Syria just before the Turkish offensive, the sum of the controversy over Doral turned out to be too much.