President Trump on Monday defended the idea of holding the 2020 meeting of the G-7 at his Trump National Doral golf resort in Miami, denying that this was a scheme to line his own pockets and claiming, as he has before, that being president is costing him billions of dollars.
He did not cite any evidence or provide any details of the assertion.
“I’ve spent, and I think I will in a combination of loss and opportunity, probably it will cost me anywhere from $3 to $5 billion to be president,” Trump said at the conclusion of the weekend G-7 meetings in Biarritz, France. “And the only thing I care about is this country. Couldn’t care less, otherwise I wouldn’t have done it. People have asked me, ‘What do you think it costs,’ and between opportunity, not doing things, I used to get a lot of money to make speeches, now I give speeches all the time. You know what I get? Zippo, and that’s good. I did a lot of great jobs and great deals that I don’t do anymore and I don’t want to do them, because the deals I’m making are great deals for the country, and that’s to me much more important.”
In what amounted to a prolonged advertisement for his golf resort, Trump then went on to gush about why Doral is the ideal venue for the next G-7 gathering, which the U.S. is scheduled to host.
“Doral happens to be within Miami. It’s a city. It’s a wonderful place. It’s a very, very successful area of Florida. It’s, very importantly, only five minutes from the airport. The airport’s right next door. It’s a big international airport, one of the biggest in the world. Everybody that’s coming, all of these people with all of their big entourages come. It’s set up so, and by the way my people looked at 12 sites, all good, but some were two hours from an airport, some were four hours, I mean, they were so far away,” Trump said. “Some didn’t allow this, some didn’t allow that. With Doral, we have a series of magnificent buildings, we call them bungalows. They each hold from 50 to 70 very luxurious rooms with magnificent views. We have incredible conference rooms with incredible restaurants, it’s like such a natural.”
Trump had been asked whether the plan to hold the 2020 G-7 meeting at one of his personally owned resorts presented a conflict of interest, but the president assured reporters that he was “not going to make any money.”
“And we have many hundreds of acres, so that in terms of parking, in terms of all of the things that you need, the ballrooms are the biggest in Florida and the best. It’s brand new, and my people wanted it. From my standpoint, I’m not going to make any money. In my opinion, I’m not going to make any money. I don’t want to make money. I don’t care about making money. If I cared about making money I wouldn’t worry about $3 to $5 billion, because that’s what, at some point I’m going to detail that and we’ll show, but I think it’s just a great place to be.”
At a campaign rally earlier in August, Trump also claimed that his personal fortune had declined by $3 billion to $5 billion since he took office. A fact check conducted by Forbes called that notion “absurd” and noted that his entire net worth was almost certainly lower than $5 billion.
Trump has written down his overall net worth, but most of the $1.4 billion in losses stem from correcting his own past reporting of his assets.
A full accounting of the president’s business income and losses remains elusive because Trump, citing an IRS audit, has gone back on his promise to release his tax returns. House Democrats continue to pursue legal challenges to obtain his returns.
Washington Post reporter David Fahrenthold, who has kept tabs on the Trump Organization finances, pointed out Monday that proving the president’s claim of business losses was a fairly straightforward matter.
I sent these questions to Eric Trump and other Trump Org execs today. I’ll let you know what I hear! pic.twitter.com/sep4YLKHco— David Fahrenthold (@Fahrenthold) August 26, 2019
Notably, one property that has reportedly suffered from its association with the Trump name has been Doral, which relies on a foreign clientele that has been put off by the president’s brand of politics, according to Forbes.
Trump’s plan to hold convene the 2020 G-7 meeting at his private club quickly drew opposition in Washington.
"Under no circumstances should the G-7 be held at Trump's Doral resort, which would be one of the most egregious examples of corruption and self-dealing in a presidency replete with them,” Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said Monday. Trump is using the office to line his own pockets."
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