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Trump Scraps Plan for G-7 at Doral     10/20 09:42

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- Responding to stinging criticism, President Donald Trump 
has abruptly reversed his plan to hold the next year's Group of Seven world 
leaders' meeting at his Doral golf resort in Florida.

   Trump announced a rare backtrack Saturday night after facing accusations 
that he was using the presidency to enrich himself by hosting the international 
summit at the private resort owned by his family.

   "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," Trump tweeted. He said his administration "will begin the search for 
another site, including the possibility of Camp David, immediately."

   The striking reversal raises further doubts about the position of the 
president's acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, who held a news conference 
Thursday announcing the choice of Doral for the summit. He insisted his staff 
had concluded it was "far and away the best physical facility." Mulvaney said 
the White House reached that determination after visiting 10 sites across the 
country.

   Mulvaney on Sunday claimed that Trump was "honestly surprised at the level 
of pushback" after the Doral announcement. "At the end of the day he still 
considers himself to be in the hospitality business," Mulvaney told "Fox News 
Sunday."

   At the same news conference, Mulvaney acknowledged a quid pro quo was at 
work when Trump held up U.S. aid to Ukraine in exchange for Ukraine's 
investigation of Democrats and the 2016 elections. Mulvaney later claimed his 
comments had been misconstrued, but not before drawing the ire of the president 
and frustration from other senior aides.

   Trump had been the first administration official to publicly float the 
selection of his property to host the summit when in August he mentioned it was 
on the short-list and praised its facilities and proximity to Miami's 
international airport. His comments, more than a month before the official 
announcement, drew instant criticism from good governance groups and Democrats, 
who said it raised concerns that Trump was using the White House to boost his 
personal finances

   The vociferous criticism only intensified with Thursday's official 
announcement, drawing wide condemnation from Democrats and even some 
Republicans. Trump insisted he would host the summit at cost, though he refused 
to disclose financial details. The annual heads-of-state gathering would at 
minimum have provided goodwill value to his property.

   Noah Bookbinder, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and 
Ethics in Washington, said Trump's reversal Saturday "is a bow to reality, but 
does not change how astonishing it was that a president ever thought this was 
appropriate, or that it was something he could get away with."

   An hour before Trump's announcement, Democratic presidential candidate Joe 
Biden condemned the selection of Doral for the summit. "Hosting the G7 at 
Trump's hotel? A president should never be able to use the office for personal 
gain," the former vice president said.

   On Thursday, Mulvaney had discounted Camp David, the government-owned 
presidential retreat, as the site for the summit, claiming, "I understand the 
folks who participated in it hated it and thought it was a miserable place to 
have the G-7." He added that it was too small and remote for the international 
summit.

   Mulvaney said then that unspecified sites in Hawaii and Utah had also been 
on the short list. It was unclear if they were still under consideration.


(KR)

 
 
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