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'You people with this phony Emoluments Clause': Cabinet meeting devolves into 71 minutes of Trump grievances

Los Angeles Times logo Los Angeles Times 10/21/2019 By Alexa Díaz, Eli Stokols, Los Angeles Times

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President Trump, trying to dig out from two new political holes of his own making on top of the expanding House impeachment inquiry, held forth for 71 minutes Monday during what was ostensibly a Cabinet meeting but ended up being a familiar torrent of grievance, defensiveness and bold statements about his expansive view of his own powers.

After reversing on his plan to hold the next G-7 summit at his Doral, Fla., golf resort, Trump dismissed criticism that he was profiting off his presidency.

"The Democrats went crazy," Trump said, commenting on criticism that he was using the presidency to enrich himself. "You don't think I get enough promotion? I get more promotion than every human being that has ever lived. I don't need promotion. It would have been the greatest G-7 ever.

"You people with this phony Emoluments Clause," Trump said, commenting on the clause in the Constitution that bars federal officials from taking "emoluments," or forms of payment or profit, from any "king, prince, or foreign state" as an ethics guideline.

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks between U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during a cabinet meeting at the White House in Washington, U.S., October 21, 2019. REUTERS/Leah Millis © Thomson Reuters U.S. President Donald Trump speaks between U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during a cabinet meeting at the White House in Washington, U.S., October 21, 2019. REUTERS/Leah Millis The president repeated his claim that he had lost billions of dollars by becoming president, particularly in the hospitality sector, and asserted that holding the G-7 event at Doral would have saved the country money.

"I'm making a big difference for the country," Trump said. "So whether I lost $2 billion, $5 billion, more or less, it doesn't make any difference to me. I don't care. If you're rich, it doesn't matter. I'm doing this for the country."

President Trump directed some of his ire for Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank) and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y).

"It's a very bad thing what they're doing. The president of the United States should be allowed to run the country, not have to focus on this kind of crap while, at the same time, doing a great job on Syria and Turkey and all of the other things that we're doing."

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Trump said House Democrats are pushing to impeach him because he believes they wouldn't beat him in the 2020 presidential election.

"It's so illegitimate. This cannot be the way our great founders meant this to be," Trump said. "I think they want to impeach me because it's the only way they're going to win."

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

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