Mulvaney told reporters during a press briefing that the Trump National Doral is the “best place” to host the summit, dismissing concerns that the president would personally profit by doing so.
“There’s no issue on him profiting on this in any way, shape or form,” Mulvaney said.
Mulvaney said the administration looked at 12 potential sites before settling on the Doral. “This was by far and away the best choice,” he said.
The acting chief of staff dismissed one reporter’s comparison of Trump to former Vice President Joe Biden, saying the Trump family made its money before Trump was in office. (The president is facing a House impeachment investigation for pressuring the government of Ukraine to dig up dirt on Biden for allegedly using his office to personally profit.)
Mulvaney said Trump is aware that hosting the summit at his own property could raise concerns of impropriety.
“The president knows that,” he said. “We know the environment we live in. He knows exactly he’s going to get that reaction. That’s fine, I’m willing to take that.”
House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) called the administration’s decision “brazen” and accused the president of using his office “for personal financial gain” in a statement on Thursday.
“The Administration’s announcement that President Trump’s Doral Miami resort will be the site of the next G7 summit is among the most brazen examples yet of the President’s corruption,” Nadler said. “He is exploiting his office and making official U.S. government decisions for his personal financial gain.”
Trump first floated the idea of hosting the G-7 summit at his Florida resort in August, prompting the House Judiciary Committee to look into potential violations of the U.S. Constitution.
The president is the sole beneficiary of a trust that now owns his family business. Hosting the summit at the Doral would thus likely put many millions of dollars into Trump’s own cash registers. In a financial disclosure form filed in May, the president claimed to have received $81,417,193 in “income” from the Florida resort over the previous year.
Trump’s use of his own property for the summit could prove to violate the Constitution’s emoluments clauses, which prohibit federal officeholders from receiving gifts or payments from governments, Nadler and Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), who chairs the subcommittee on the Constitution, civil rights and civil liberties, said in a statement in August.
Nadler said Thursday that the committee would continue investigating the decision for possible violations of the emoluments clauses. But he added: “We will not allow this latest abuse of power to distract from Congress’ efforts to get to the bottom of the President’s interference in the 2020 election.”
Mulvaney’s assertion that the Trump resort is obviously the “best choice” for the summit has also been called into question.
“It’s a dump,” one former White House official, who asked not to be named, said of the Doral.
During the Republican National Committee’s meeting at the resort last spring, there were major maintenance issues in evidence.
“At least one of the guest buildings smelled of mildew, as did its guest rooms,” HuffPost’s S.V. Date reported earlier this year. “The restaurant on the lower floor in the main lodge had a mustiness tinged with the fraternity house odor of spilled alcohol. Its lap pool’s water was both over-chlorinated and kept at too low a level, making it unpleasant to use for its intended purpose.”
This story has been updated with a statement from House Judiciary Chair Jerrold Nadler.
S.V. Date contributed to this report.