Democracy, amirite? The U.S. government includes checks and balances to keep leaders from abusing their power, but the president doesn't appear to be a fan of at least one of them. After criticism that forced President Donald Trump to walk back his plan to hold the annual Group of Seven (G7) Summit at his Trump National Doral resort in Miami, Florida, Trump called the emoluments clause "phony" while speaking with reporters on Oct. 21.
On Thursday, Oct. 17, the White House announced that the 2020 G7 summit of world leaders, hosted by the United States, would be held at the Trump-owned Doral resort. The announcement that the president was directing a major diplomatic contract to his own company was, as The Washington Post pointed out, without precedent. The backlash was swift, drawing bipartisan condemnation for the appearance of corruption. Many also quickly pointed out that the move may violate the emoluments clause of the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits presidents from accepting gifts or payments from foreign governments. Since Trump bucked tradition by not divesting himself of his business holdings as president, he would benefit from the resort's profits on the foreign leaders' stay. The White House did not immediately respond to Elite Daily's request for comment on the plan and the criticisms of it.
Apparently, Trump was "surprised at the level of pushback” from his political allies as well as opponents, according to White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney. Trump later walked back the decision. In an Oct. 21 tweet, he wrote, "Doral in Miami would have been the best place to hold the G-7, and free, but too much heat from the Do Nothing Radical Left Democrats & their Partner, the Fake News Media!"
A few hours later, Trump still seemed worked up about the situation. Speaking to reporters at the White House, he complained about the blowback and suggested he hadn't done anything out of the ordinary. "Other presidents were wealthy," he said, citing presidents like George Washington. "I don't think you people, with this phony emoluments clause — and by the way, I would say that it's cost me anywhere from $2 to $5 billion dollars to become president. And that's OK. Between what I lose and what I could have made." The White House did not immediately respond to Elite Daily's request for comment on the remark and the president's stance on the emoluments clause.
The emoluments clause is, however, as un-phony as you can get. The foreign emoluments clause is part of Article 1 of the Constitution, and is meant to prevent presidents from being improperly influenced, intentionally or otherwise, by gifts from and financial interests in foreign governments. While the foreign version is what's relevant here, there's also a domestic version, which prohibits a president from receiving gifts or compensation (besides his official payment) from states or the federal government.
The president is no stranger to criticism over the emoluments clauses. As of October 2019, he and his Trump Organization are still embroiled in multiple lawsuits over alleged violations of the emoluments clauses, given the Trump Organization's international holdings. The District of Columbia and Maryland state attorneys general have also filed suit against the president over allegations of unfair competition with his Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. The White House did not immediately respond to Elite Daily's request for comment on the lawsuits.