Donald Trump has built a presidential brand out of supposed budget hawkery on behalf of the American taxpayer, often complaining that Americans pay too much to fund Nato, to conduct military exercises in South Korea or to trade with China.
But the president has yet to emit a peep about the hundreds of millions of dollars it will cost taxpayers next year to host a summit of world leaders from G7 countries – and there might be a very good reason.
Trump has been campaigning to host the 2020 G7 at one of his resorts, the struggling Trump National Doral Miami in Florida, a move that would divert a torrent of taxpayer cash into his own coffers.
Trump publicly confirmed his idea to put forward his own property as a summit site in a joint appearance on Monday at the G7 in Biarritz, France, alongside the German chancellor, Angela Merkel.
While his administration was still considering other potential sites, Trump said, Doral, an 800-acre golf resort close to the Miami airport, was the clear frontrunner.
“They love the location of the hotel,” Trump told the cameras. “We haven’t found anything that’s even close to competing with it.
“It’s one of the biggest airports, takes planes from everywhere. Sometimes you have hours and hours of driving to get to certain locations.
“You’ll only have a five-minute drive, which is good,” Trump told Merkel.
Trump has come in for criticism – though not yet official censure or substantive congressional action – for perceived ethical lapses connected with his failure, upon becoming president, to divest from the Trump Organization, which is supposedly being run by his sons without him.
Trump’s business ties, which he has not fully disclosed to voters, have also raised concerns that he could have violated a constitutional ban on government officials taking emoluments – profits derived from the holding of public office – from foreign governments or actors.
His continued ownership of the Trump Organization means, for example, that an untold share of the hundreds of thousands of dollars spent by foreign governments and tens of millions of dollars spent by domestic interest groups at the Trump International hotel in Washington could have found their way to Trump himself.
The Trump Organization claims to reimburse the US Treasury where appropriate.
Trump-branded properties have had mixed success since Trump moved into the White House. Doral’s net operating income has fallen by 69% in the last two years, the Washington Post reported. A flood of foreign leaders, security spending and staff could stop that skid.
The US last hosted the G7 summit (then the G8 with the inclusion of Russia, which was expelled in 2014 and which Trump now wants to readmit) in 2012 at Camp David, Maryland, a government site. In 2004, the US hosted at Sea Island, Georgia.