Donald Trump’s dreams of
making money off of hosting world leaders on the taxpayers’ dime at a Florida resort he owns may have gone down in flames, but on Monday, he defended his impulse, complaining that the constitutional provision that bars presidents from profiting off their office was “phony.”
“You people with this phony emoluments clause,” Trump said to reporters gathered at the White House, according to the Daily Beast, before making a claim of what might have been—if he hadn’t done the whole country the honor of becoming its head of state: “... and by the way, I would say that it’s cost anywhere between $2-to-$5-billion to be president, and that’s OK. I would have made a fortune, if I just ran [my] business.”
Of course, despite Trump’s contentions otherwise, the emoluments clause is a very real thing. Two things, in fact, and both written in the U.S. Constitution.
Article 1, Section 9, Paragraph 8 of the Constitution prohibits presidents, and other federal officeholders, from accepting anything of value from a foreign state, while Article 2, Section 1, Paragraph 7 prohibits presidents from financially benefiting from the federal or state governments, aside from their salary.
So, when Trump’s acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney breezily announced Thursday that Trump’s Doral resort in Miami was where the next Group of 7 meeting of industrial world powers would take place, there was an outcry—from many Republicans as well as Democrats.
By the weekend, Trump had announced a change of heart and indicated that the search would continue for a G-7 location.
But on Monday, Trump revealed the bitterness was real.
“It would have been the greatest G-7 ever,” Trump lamented to reporters, according to the New York Times.
“Doral was a very simple situation,” he said. “I own a property in Florida. I was going to do it at no cost or give it free if I got a ruling, because there is a question as to whether or not you’re allowed to give it, because it’s like a contribution to a country.”
But it was all ruined, according to Trump, due to the “crazy” Democrats—no mention of the very real critiques from his own Republican Party.
Trump also managed to bring up forever President Barack Obama, trying to compare his failed Doral deal to Obama’s book publishing and Netflix deals announced after Obama left office.
“Hey, Obama made a deal for a book—is that running a business? I’m sure he didn’t even discuss it while he was president,” Trump said, the Daily Beast reports. “He has a deal with Netflix. When did they start talking about that?”
Of course, Trump is still contending with a House impeachment inquiry over whether he tried to pressure Ukraine to get the goods on political opponent Joe Biden. And as the Times explains:
Mr. Obama’s contracts with a domestic publisher and movie studio, however, are not directly comparable to taking money from foreign governments.