One of President Donald Trump’s golf resorts in Florida will host the G7 summit next June, the White House says.
White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney denied President Trump would profit from the event.
Mr Mulvaney said “Donald Trump’s brand is probably strong enough as it is” and did not need a branding boost.
Mr Trump has previously said he is not involved with the daily operations of the Trump Organization and that his sons run the business.
How was the Doral chosen?
Mr Mulvaney told reporters on Thursday that an advance team of scouts had started with a list of possible locations for the summit, including venues in California, Colorado, Hawaii, Florida, North Carolina, Michigan, Tennessee and Utah.
In the end, he said, it became apparent that Doral was by “far and away, the best physical facility for this meeting”.
“In fact I was talking to one of the advance teams when they came back and I said, ‘What was it like?’ And they said, ‘You’re not going to believe this but it’s almost like they built this facility to host this type of event.'”
The chief of staff said the event would be made available “at cost” and that using the Doral would save millions of dollars.
Is the president improperly profiting?
Earlier this year, the US president floated the idea of his Doral property hosting the G7. But the White House denied on Thursday he was availing himself of a branding opportunity.
“It’s [Trump] the most recognisable name in the English language and probably around the world right now, so no, that has nothing to do with that,” Mr Mulvaney said.
Mr Mulvaney added: “Basically, he’d be criticised regardless of what he chose to do, but no, there’s no issue here on him profiting from this any way, shape or form.”
But Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a watchdog, told AP news agency: “The president is now officially using the power of his office to help prop up his struggling golf business.”
What will happen at the G7 summit?
The Group of Seven meeting, between Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, UK and the US plus the EU, takes place between 10 and 12 June next year.
Mr Mulvaney said there were ongoing discussions about whether Mr Trump would invite Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Russia was excluded from the G7 – then the G8 – for annexing Crimea in 2014, but Mr Trump has suggested it would be better to have Russia at the table.
Climate change would not be on the agenda at the summit, the chief of staff added.
He said it would focus on “challenges to the global economy”.
Par for the course
Never mind that Donald Trump has been repeatedly accused of steering government dollars to benefit his business interests. Never mind that the acting White House chief of staff said the president personally suggested Doral as a possible site.
Never mind that the president has accused Democrat Joe Biden’s family of personally profiting from US government actions. Never mind that hosting anything in hot, muggy south Florida in June is a questionable idea.
Mr Mulvaney said the summit would be provided “at cost”, so Mr Trump will not personally profit from Doral’s selection. Even a break-even event on a Trump property is a boon for the business, however, in terms of publicity and the fact that full hotel rooms and resort facilities making break-even revenue are better than empty ones bringing in no money.
Mr Trump will push ahead with this plan, regardless of the howls of outrage from his critics – as he has time and time again during his presidency.
What is the Trump National Doral?
The 800-acre resort boasts five golf courses, 700 hotel rooms, a spa, conference rooms and shops.
Located about eight miles (13 km) from Miami’s airport, the property was acquired by Mr Trump out of bankruptcy in 2012.
According to its website, the Doral has several ballrooms, including one named after the president’s daughter, Ivanka Trump.
The Miami Herald reported in May that the Doral had been “severely under-performing”.
Is this a conflict of interest?
Mr Mulvaney denied hosting the summit would breach the Emoluments Clause of the US constitution, which prohibits any “profit, gain, or advantage” from political office.
When he became president, Mr Trump stepped down from running his company, handing over the reins of the real estate empire to his sons, but he still retains ownership of the business.
President Trump has been criticised for visiting his golf clubs across the US and abroad – he stayed at his luxury resort in Doonbeg, Ireland, after a state visit to the UK this year.
The president’s critics say his ownership of these properties is a conflict of interest and argue it is unethical that Mr Trump could derive any profits during his presidency.
In July, a federal appeals court rejected a case that argued Mr Trump was unconstitutionally profiting through his hotel in the nation’s capital, near the White House.