WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump rejected suggestions Monday that hosting the G-7 summit of world leaders at his resort in Doral, Florida, would have run afoul of the U.S. Constitution.
Speaking to reporters in the White House Cabinet Room, Trump dismissed as “phony” a section of the Constitution that bars federal office holders from accepting gifts from foreign governments.
“You people with this phony Emoluments Clause,” he said.
Trumps remarks came as he was chiding Democrats for pushing back against his decision to host the G-7 at his Doral resort.
Democrats and some Republicans, as well as government watchdogs, decried the administration’s decision to award the event to one of the president’s properties. Under pressure, Trump announced Saturday on Twitter that he was reversing his decision to host the summit at Doral, suggesting Camp David could serve as an alternative site.
On Monday, Trump defended his choice of Doral.
“I would have given it for nothing,” he said. “The Democrats went crazy, even though I would have done it free.”
Trump also rejected criticism that he would have personally profited from hosting it at his Florida club.
“I don’t need promotion,” he said. “It would have been the best G-7 ever.”
The Emoluments Clause is an anti-bribery provision that forbids any U.S. president from receiving gifts from foreign leaders and is derived from the Latin word “emolumentum,” meaning “profit” or “gain.”
The Emoluments Clause is Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution. It prohibits any “Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under [the United States]” from accepting “any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.”
In July, a three-judge of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a lawsuit from Maryland and the District of Columbia that alleged Trump violated the Emoluments Clause by benefiting from his business while in office. The full appeals court, however, agreed last week to rehear the case.
The suit challenged the financial benefits Trump has reaped from government entities patronizing his businesses while he is president, pointing in particular to government bookings at his Trump International Hotel, a few blocks from the White House.
Trumps dismissive remarks about the Emoluments Clause drew immediate fire on Twitter.
“There are two Emoluments Clauses that he’s violating and they are very much in the very real Constitution,” the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.
Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, wrote: “My instinct is, and I am not kidding, that someone just explained the emoluments clause to him, possibly for the first time.”
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