WASHINGTON (AN) — Amid a storm of bipartisan criticism, U.S. President Donald Trump reacted quickly on Sunday by rescinding his plan to host the G-7 summit at his own resort in 2020 and promising to immediately begin searching for another site.
Trump announced his abrupt reversal on Twitter, saying his earlier decision to convene next year's summit for the Group of Seven rich democracies at his private golf resort in Florida was now off the table. It marked a rare retreat on his part and a stunning turnaround from White House acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney's announcement at the White House on Thursday.
Mulvaney had told reporters that Trump decided the G-7 summit on June 10-12, 2020 should be held at Trump National Doral Miami, and that the president shrugged off the self-dealing aspects and legal consequences of using his public office to award himself a huge government contract.
Democrats, Republicans and advocates of good governance showered Trump with criticism for exploiting the presidency to enrich himself by using a Trump Organization-owned private resort. "As usual, the Hostile Media & their Democrat Partners went CRAZY!" Trump tweeted in answer.
The last U.S.-hosted G-7 summit was held in 2012 at the U.S. government’s Camp David in western Maryland, during then-President Barack Obama’s administration. In 2004, then-President George W. Bush held it at Sea Island, a private resort in Georgia now owned by American billionaire Phillip Anschutz and his family.
"Based on both Media & Democrat Crazed and Irrational Hostility, we will no longer consider Trump National Doral, Miami, as the Host Site for the G-7 in 2020," Trump said on Twitter. "We will begin the search for another site, including the possibility of Camp David, immediately."
The summit revolves each year among the G-7’s eight members: Britain, Canada, the European Union, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States.
Mulvaney said the Trump administration visited 10 unspecified sites in California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Michigan, North Carolina, Tennessee and Utah before selecting Trump’s Miami golf resort, conveniently close to the airport.
Mulvaney also claimed the Trump Organization would host the summit “at cost,” charging taxpayers only enough to cover the resort’s costs. The bulk of the costs for the summit are typically paid by the U.S. government, though foreign governments pay for their own rooms.
Trump's reversal came soon after the Washington Post published an editorial that carried the headline: "Trump’s plan for the G-7 was blatant corruption. He was right to drop it."The editorial observed that in the wake of Trump's decision to award himself the contract to host the G-7 summit "the notion that the United States stands for clean government in the public interest — and its standing to combat graft in other countries — is shredded."
Mulvaney told Fox News on Sunday, however, that "we talked about it at great length last night" and Trump "was honestly surprised at the level of pushback. At the end of the day, he still considers himself to be in the hospitality business."
The newspaper also noted that Trump's turnaround was not due to a change of heart over the ethics or legality of the situation, but because he was uncharacteristically caving in to what he perceived as the hostility of the "crazed and irrational" news media and his Democratic opposition.
"We hope that this is his final answer on this question — and that Congress takes this opportunity to look more critically at Mr. Trump’s intermingling of personal and official business," the paper said.