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Trump dismisses 'phony Emoluments Clause' after Doral criticism

The Hill logo The Hill 10/21/2019 Brett Samuels
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Video by CBS News

President Trump on Monday dismissed criticism that his since-reversed plan to host the Group of Seven (G-7) summit at his Doral property would have led to an ethics violation.

"I don't think you people, with this phony Emoluments Clause -- and by the way, I would say that it's cost anywhere from $2 billion to $5 billion to be president," Trump said during a Cabinet meeting at the White House.

The Emoluments Clause prohibits elected federal officials from receiving gifts or contributions from foreign governments. Trump has repeatedly claimed the presidency has cost him billions of dollars.

Trump offered a lengthy defense of using his Doral resort near Miami to host next year's G-7 summit, and lashed out amid questions about the backlash to his earlier decision.

Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie: Trump dismisses 'phony Emoluments Clause' after Doral criticism © The Hill Trump dismisses 'phony Emoluments Clause' after Doral criticism Trump insisted that he would not have profited off hosting world leaders, scores of journalists and other staff at his family's property near Miami. The president announced Saturday the White House would find a new location for the summit following criticism from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

"It would have been the best G-7 ever," Trump told reporters during a Cabinet meeting, adding that he felt the eventual location would not be as good.

"The Democrats went crazy, even though I would have done it free, saved the country a lot of money," he added. "Then they say, 'Oh, but you'll get promotion.' Who cares? You don't think I get enough promotion? I get more promotion than any human being that's ever lived."

Trump, who turned over control of his business empire to his sons but did not put his assets in a blind trust, again criticized former President Obama for his book deal and contract with Netflix, both of which were agreed to after Obama left the White House.

"Other presidents were wealthy. Not huge wealth... but they ran their businesses," Trump said. "George Washington, they say, had two desks. He had a presidential desk and a business desk.

Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney announced during a press conference on Thursday that the Doral resort would host the G-7 summit in June. He said the Trump family property was chosen after White House teams scouted a dozen properties as potential sites.

The announcement drew swift backlash. Critics called it a blatant effort to enrich the president's family business.

Even some Republicans had expressed unease with the decision, viewing it as difficult to defend during an impeachment inquiry targeting Trump and shortly after the president's withdrawal of troops from northern Syria.

Trump reportedly made the decision to pick a new G-7 summit location following a call with Republicans on Saturday.

Democrats have long alleged that Trump has used the presidency to bolster his business empire, citing frequent stays by administration officials and foreign representatives at Trump branded properties.

A lawsuit filed by congressional Democrats alleging Trump is violating the Emoluments Clause is working its way through the court system.

Updated at 1:30 p.m.

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