Thursday, October 17, 2019

What did Donald Trump do today?

He awarded himself a massive government contract to host the G7.

Trump announced today that he had chosen his own property, Trump National Doral, as the site of the next G7 summit in June of 2020. It's hard to know how much money, from American taxpayers and foreign governments alike, that this will put directly into Trump's pockets—in part because Trump (in his capacity as the owner) isn't saying. But even a conservative estimate would put it in the high millions if not tens of millions of dollars.

Doral is one of the relatively few Trump-branded properties that Trump actually owns. It is heavily leveraged, and business has been terrible lately, thanks in part to dozens of health and safety violations and reports of bedbugs. (Trump denies that Doral has bedbugs, but he also paid to settle a lawsuit from a guest who was bitten by them.) June is an especially bleak month for Doral, given how hot and muggy inland Florida gets in the summer. It's also the start of hurricane season.

In a press conference today announcing the choice, acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney admitted that Trump had picked the site himself, and that no further information would ever be released about whether other sites were even considered. “If you want to see our paper on how we did this, the answer is absolutely not,” Mulvaney said.

In his previous flirtation with the idea, Trump touted Doral's abundant parking as a reason to host the G7 nations. This, at least, is accurate: Trump National Doral does have plenty of parking. It's also close to a CVS and a FedEx store.

The Constitution, in two separate clauses, forbids Trump from using the presidency to enrich himself either with foreign or domestic money. Trump refused to put his businesses in a blind trust when he took office, and is the target of several lawsuits over his attempts to use his office to prop up his businesses.

Why does this matter?

  • Using your public office to pad your personal bottom line is always wrong.
  • A president who can't decide whether he wants to do the work of his elected office or run a hotel should resign from the presidency.
  • Inviting foreign governments to pay you money personally, when you're president, is inviting foreign governments to pay you a bribe.
  • Nobody—not even Trump—seriously believes a struggling Florida golf resort in June is the right place for this kind of event.