Advertisement
  1. News
  2. /
  3. Nation & World

Trump ‘surprised’ at push-back to hosting G-7 at his Doral resort, chief of staff says

The chief of staff called Trump’s sudden change of course — announced by the president on Twitter Saturday evening — “the right decision.”
FILE - This June 2, 2017, file image made from video shows the Trump National Doral in Doral, Fla. President Donald Trump said on Twitter on Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019, he is reversing his plan to hold the next Group of Seven world leaders' meeting at his Doral, Florida, golf resort. (AP Photo/Alex Sanz, File) [ALEX SANZ | AP]
Published Oct. 20

President Donald Trump changed his mind about hosting a summit of world leaders at his own resort in Doral after being “surprised at the level of push-back” to last week’s announcement, his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, said Sunday.

Mulvaney, speaking during an interview Sunday morning with Fox’s Chris Wallace, said Trump “thinks people think it looks lousy” that he chose Trump National Doral Miami as the host site for next summer’s G-7 summit.

Mulvaney called Trump’s sudden change of course — announced by the president on Twitter Saturday evening — “the right decision.”

“He was honestly surprised at the level of push-back,” Mulvaney said. “He still considers himself to be in the hospitality business and he saw an opportunity to take the biggest leaders around the world and he wanted to put on the absolute best show, best visit he possibly could. He was very confident doing that at Doral.”

Trump’s tweets were a stunning reversal for a president who rarely backs down from a fight.

Mulvaney announced Thursday that the Trump administration had chosen the president’s own resort in Miami-Dade County to host the G-7. Mulvaney, who made the announcement during a hastily planned press briefing in Washington, told reporters that scouts had reviewed as many as a dozen locations and settled on Trump’s Doral hotel as the best site.

Mulvaney said Trump was the one who initially suggested his Doral resort as the host site.

The administration’s announcement on Thursday was received with broad bipartisan criticism — from Republicans as well as from Democratic members, who swiftly vowed to add the case to a sweeping federal lawsuit accusing the president of repeatedly violating the emoluments clause of the U.S. Constitution.

The controversy added pressure to a president also fending off an impeachment investigation and criticism from his own party about his diplomacy in Syria and efforts to broker a cease fire with Turkey.

At 9:18 p.m. Saturday, Trump began a series of three tweets explaining that he would no longer consider his resort as a host site, blaming Democrats and the media. He announced he was taking his property off the table shortly before 10 p.m.

“I thought I was doing something very good for our Country by using Trump National Doral, in Miami, for hosting the G-7 Leaders,” Trump wrote. “I announced that I would be willing to do it at NO PROFIT or, if legally permissible, at ZERO COST to the USA.”

“But, as usual, the Hostile Media & their Democrat Partners went CRAZY!” he continued. “Therefore, 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. We will begin the search for another site, including the possibility of Camp David.”

Mulvaney told Fox that the explanations Trump offered were “real.” Trump’s personal attorney, Jay Sekulow, told McClatchy DC Sunday that he did not advise the president about the cancellation of the G-7 summit at Doral because it was out of his purview.

The White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Meanwhile, national and local leaders reacted to the sudden change in plans.

“The G-7 may no longer be at Trump National Doral, but that won’t stop foreign nations from dumping money into Donald Trump’s pockets by spending at his hotels,” Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren tweeted late Saturday. “And it won’t stop Trump from rewarding Mar-a-Lago members with ambassadorships.”

Doral Mayor Juan Carlos Bermudez, who was not notified of the Trump administration’s decision to choose Doral as a G-7 site prior to Mulvaney’s announcement, was also caught off-guard by Trump’s tweets.

“We certainly felt it would have been good not only for Doral but for Miami-Dade County,” Bermudez said in an interview Sunday. “If the administration decides to change course ... it’s their right.”

Bermudez said he had already begun conversations with the county about preparing for the event, which had been set for next June, though the date is now uncertain.

“It would have been a great opportunity for Doral and Miami-Dade County to have seven — forget about President Trump — six other world leaders with him at the same time. If there’s disappointment, it’s in the [lost] opportunity to showcase our city and county. But it’s their decision.”

U.S. Rep. Donna Shalala, a Democrat, said the decision to host the G-7 Summit somewhere else was “the right thing to do, but his actions surrounding this controversy are a microcosm of his complete disregard for the Constitution.”

It’s now unclear where the U.S. will host the leaders of the world’s leading economies. If Camp David — the president’s retreat in Maryland — is deemed unsuitable, Mulvaney offered hints during Thursday’s press briefing at other possible locations for the posh event the French hosted this year in the resort town of Biarritz.

He said the Trump administration considered 12 locations and visited 10 sites in eight states, including California, Florida and North Carolina. In addition to Doral, two locations in Utah and one in Hawaii made the White House’s short list, Mulvaney told reporters.

The G-7 would have been a banner event for Miami, often seen as the Capital of the Americas. Heads of state from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom would have converged on the site for for their yearly meeting.

The nations rotate hosting duties, and Trump mentioned in August that he was interested in the United States inviting the nations to his golf resort. But Miami Herald records requests to the City of Doral, the office of Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez and local police found no evidence of communication from Washington about potentially hosting the summit.

Gimenez told the Herald last Thursday that he spoke to Trump during by phone when Hurricane Dorian threatened Miami in August and in that call, the president told him that he was thinking about hosting the summit in Miami-Dade.

After Doral officials made two calls to the Secret Service’s Miami office amid strong hints from Trump, the City of Doral assigned an extra $270,000 to the city’s police budget to cover security costs tied to the summit, said Bermudez, Doral’s mayor.

Bermudez said Sunday that he expects the city will keep the money in place for now, in case Trump changes his mind again.

“I think at some point, when it’s confirmed it’s definitely not coming here, that money goes back in the budget for other uses,” Bermudez told the Miami Herald. “But it will probably stay there until we’re definitely sure there will be no event here.”

Miami Herald reporter Douglas Hanks and Bianca Padró Ocasio contributed to this report.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. People are lead out of Saugus High School after reports of a shooting on Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019 in Santa Clarita, Calif.  The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department says on Twitter that deputies are responding to the high school about 30 miles  northwest of downtown Los Angeles. The sheriff’s office says a male suspect in black clothing was seen at the school. AP
    At least seven people were injured — one critically — in a shooting at Saugus High School when a gunman opened fire on the Santa Clarita campus early Thursday, authorities said.
  2. FILE - In this Aug. 27, 2017 file photo, Kodak Black arrives at the MTV Video Music Awards in Inglewood, Calif. The rapper has been sentenced to more than three years in federal prison after pleading guilty to weapons charges stemming from his arrest just before a scheduled concert performance in May. The 22-year-old admitted in August that he falsified information on federal forms to buy four firearms from a Miami-area gun shop on two separate occasions. JORDAN STRAUSS  |  Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP
    The sentence was far less than the maximum 10-year sentence he could have received.
  3. Career Foreign Service officer George Kent, testifies before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2019, during the first public impeachment hearing of President Donald Trump's efforts to tie U.S. aid for Ukraine to investigations of his political opponents. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) ANDREW HARNIK  |  AP
    Kent was one of the most high-ranking career officials who had knowledge about elements of the alleged White House effort.
  4. Career Foreign Service officer George Kent, center in bowtie, arrives to testify before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2019, during the first public impeachment hearings of President Donald Trump's efforts to tie U.S. aid for Ukraine to investigations of his political opponents. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez) JULIO CORTEZ  |  AP
    Ambassador William Taylor and Deputy Assistant Secretary George Kent are scheduled to testify before the House Intelligence Committee.
  5. In this Amber Alert made available by the Jacksonville, Fla., Police, shows an undated photo of Taylor Williams. On Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019, authorities in Alabama say they have found human remains while searching in the woods for Williams. The child was reported missing from her Jacksonville, Fla., home last Wednesday. (Jacksonville Police via AP) AP
    Taylor Rose Williams’ mother, who said her daughter disappeared from home overnight, was charged with child neglect and giving false information to investigators, according to investigators.
  6. DACA recipients including Greisa Martinez Rosa, right of center in red dress, and others leave the Supreme Court with their hands in the air after oral arguments were heard in the case of President Trump's decision to end the Obama-era, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019, at the Supreme Court in Washington. ALEX BRANDON  |  AP
    The program currently protects 660,000 immigrants who came to the U.S. as children and are here illegally.
  7. Alex Trebeka speaks at the 44th annual Daytime Emmy Awards at the Pasadena Civic Center on Sunday, April 30, 2017, in Pasadena, Calif. On Thursday, Jan. 4, 2018, Trebek announced that he's on a leave of absence from "Jeopardy" after undergoing brain surgery for blood clots - medically known as subdural hematoma - that were "caused by a fall I endured two months ago." [Photo by Chris Pizzello | Invision | AP]
    Tournament of Champions contestant Dhruv Gaur decided to sacrifice his Final Jeopardy answer to send the host a loving message: #weloveyouAlex.
  8. The three Taliban figures were under the custody of the Afghan government, Ghani said, and were held at the Bagram prison, an air base that also houses U.S. troops just outside Kabul.
  9. Smoke rises after an Israeli forces strike in Gaza City, Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019. Israel killed a senior Islamic Jihad commander in Gaza early Tuesday in a resumption of pinpointed targeting that threatens a fierce round of cross-border violence with Palestinian militants. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa) HATEM MOUSSA  |  AP
    The Israeli strike killed Bahaa Abu el-Atta and his wife, setting off a furious barrage of Gaza-fired rockets that reached as far as the Tel Aviv
  10. Demonstrators march on Pennsylvania Avenue protesting President Donald Trump, in Washington, Friday, Nov. 8, 2019. JOSE LUIS MAGANA                         |  AP
    House committees will determine whether President Donald Trump violated his oath of office by asking Ukraine to investigate political rival Joe Biden’s family and the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement