“Miami” meant President Trump’s resort near the Miami airport, which hadn’t been among the original 10 sites that the Secret Service team had vetted. Although vetting of possible sites had begun in late May, the official wrote on July 12 that “yesterday was the first time we put eyes on this [Doral] property.”
The official’s email was released to the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, which made a public-records request and then sued when government agencies did not comply.
It sheds light on the process that led to Trump’s short-lived decision last month to award the Group of Seven summit — a gathering of top world leaders — to his own business.
The official was identified in the email as serving in the dignitary protective division, but the official’s name was redacted.
The email does not make clear what the agents thought of Doral as a possible site. It includes the phrase “Although the property does present some challenges.” The remainder of the evaluation is also redacted.
The Secret Service planned to present Trump with the results of its examinations in mid-July and then let him make the final decision, the email said.
At the time, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said the Doral site had been selected after a thorough search process. “It became apparent at the end of that process that Doral was, by far and away — far and away — the best physical facility for this meeting,” Mulvaney said.
In a news conference, Mulvaney described a long search process that began with 12 sites, then whittled the list down to four, including Doral.
He said Trump had been the one to suggest his own resort: “What about Doral?” But Mulvaney gave no indication that this addition had come so late in the process.
The White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
A Secret Service spokeswoman declined to answer questions about the vetting process, saying the service “does not discuss our protectees or our protective means and methods.”
The Doral resort has fallen into financial decline since Trump got into politics, according to documents that the Trump Organization submitted to Miami-Dade County in an effort to lower their property tax valuations. The resort’s profits fell 69 percent in two years, from 2015 to 2017.
Jordan Libowitz, a spokesman for the watchdog group that obtained the email, said it appeared Trump had intervened in the process to steer business to himself.
“We now know that Doral was added for consideration at the last minute and the Secret Service had reluctance about holding it there,” Libowitz said.
No new site has been announced for next year’s Group of Seven summit, a massive event that involves many world leaders and hundreds of diplomats, media and security personnel. One official close to the search, who was not authorized to speak about it publicly, described it as a “mad scramble” to find another site.