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White House says Trump property will host next G-7 summit, dismissing concerns over ethics and optics

White House says next G-7 will be at Trump property

Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney announced Thursday that the 2020 G-7 summit of world leaders will be held at Trump National Doral Miami, dismissing concerns about the president potentially profiting from his position of power.

Mulvaney defended the decision to hold the G-7 at a Trump-owned property, saying that "Donald Trump's brand is probably strong enough as it is."

"It's not the only place. It's the best place," Mulvaney said in a press conference announced last minute, while the president was en route to Texas. The White House briefing was Mulvaney's first since taking on the acting chief of staff role at the turn of the year.

The U.S. is responsible for hosting next year's G-7 summit, and Mr. Trump indicated at the most recent G-7 summit in France that he wanted to hold it at his own private club in Florida. The president has insisted he doesn't care about profiting from it, even as he advertised the features of Trump National Doral Miami. 

Mulvaney said that it was Mr. Trump's idea to include Doral as a possibility. And the White House advance staff, Mulvaney claimed, ultimately determined it was the best of several options. 

Mulvaney also said that there were ongoing discussions about whether Mr. Trump would invite Russian President Vladimir Putin. Russia was kicked out of the group for annexing Crimea, an event Mr. Trump blames on former President Barack Obama, but Mr. Trump has suggested it would be better to have Russia at the table.

"Doral happens to be within Miami, it's a city, it's a wonderful place, it's a very very successful area of Florida," Mr. Trump has said in the past. "It's very importantly only five minutes from the airport, the airport's right next door. It's a big international airport, one of the biggest in the world."

Mulvaney dismissed concerns that the White House at the very least runs into issues of optics and potentially a conflict of interest, all while the Trumps and the White House accuse the Biden family of self-dealing.

"There's no profit here, there's clearly profit with the Bidens," Mulvaney asserted.  

Democratic National Committee Deputy War Room Director Daniel Wessel said in a statement it's clear that "America first" actually means "Trump first."

"Trump's Doral property has been hemorrhaging money. Its profitability is down 69% in two years. But Trump, the president with the most conflicts of interest in our nation's history, has found a way out - by hosting the G7 at his failing property. Trump still has not divested himself from his business empire and stands to gain a fortune from his self-dealing," Wessel wrote. "It's obvious that 'America First' is a euphemism for 'Trump First,' and Americans deserve so much better."  

Mulvaney also defended the president and White House over the president's push to have Ukraine investigate the Bidens, a request that has now landed Mr. Trump in the ongoing impeachment inquiry. The acting White House chief of staff insisted that the president's phone call with Ukraine's president was indeed "perfect," and insisted there was no cover-up in storing that transcript in a separate server.

Kathryn Watson contributed to this report.

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