On Thursday, the White House announced the decision. After considering about a dozen sites, the winner is — wait for it — the Trump Doral. “It’s almost like they built this facility to host this event,” acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney claimed someone on the site evaluation team told him. It’s “the best place,” he said with a straight face of the Doral, an establishment that’s racked up multiple health-code violations over the past several years, including one for a roach infestation.
One of the many lies of the Trump presidency is the idea that the president is so rich, he can’t be tempted by the conflicts of interests and penny-ante corruption other mere mortals couldn’t resist. This has almost certainly turned out to be the opposite of the truth, never mind Mulvaney’s claim that Trump has never profited from the presidency. Trump refused to put his holdings in a blind trust. Trump laughs in the face of lawsuits alleging violations of the Constitution’s emoluments clause and any claims resembling conflict of interest. He’s traveled to and stayed at properties he’s owned well over a hundred times since he moved into the White House, running up monster bills every step of the way. Lobbyists flock to the Trump hotel in Washington, while others ranging from conservative interest groups to payday loan lenders book events at Trump properties around the country. This past summer, Vice President Pence, on an official state visit to Ireland, felt a compelling need to stay at the country’s Trump golf resort even though it was located more than 100 miles away from the site of his meetings. The president, his staff told the press, made the “suggestion” he stay there.
In fact, Trump is pathological when it comes to vacuuming up the small change, something obvious from the beginning of his career. He’s stiffed small contractors and big banks alike. He ripped off pensioners for three- and four-figure sums with Trump University and took money to promote scammy multilevel marketing schemes. Heck, he once cashed a check for 13 cents, sent to him as a joke by Spy magazine.
Mulvaney claimed on Thursday that the G-7 would be hosted “at cost,” a claim that likely will be rather difficult to confirm since Mulvaney also said the White House is “absolutely not” releasing any paperwork regarding how it made the decision. There’s also the marketing opportunity itself — for the resort, known to be struggling financially, the event is like a long commercial, a days-long episode of “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” running on news programs around the world. This is banana republic stuff.
Common sense would say that Trump, in a mess of trouble right now, would think twice about this decision. Instead, he’s daring his critics to come after him yet again. But why would we expect anything else? Hypocrisy has never stopped him. Fear of consequences has never stopped him. He just doubles down. For Trump, the presidency is like an all-you-can-eat financial buffet. He’s going to keep returning for more servings until he’s forced to stop.