Trump blames 'phony emoluments clause' for scrapped plan to host G-7 at his Miami resort

The president also brought up Obama's post-White House Netflix deal as part of a lengthy defense of the summit choice and his business interests.

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By Lauren Egan

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Monday defended his original decision to host the 2020 G-7 summit of world leaders at his private resort in Miami, blaming what he called the "phony" emoluments clause of the U.S. Constitution for his abrupt reversal.

"You people with this phony emoluments clause," Trump told reporters at the White House during a Cabinet meeting, referring to the section of the Constitution that prohibits government officials from accepting payments and gifts from foreign governments.

Trump also blasted Democrats for harshly criticizing his choice of venue, though NBC News reported earlier Monday that a group of House Republicans had expressed concerns about the plans directly to the president on Saturday. Later that same day, Trump tweeted that the summit would no longer be held at the Miami property.

"The Democrats went crazy, even though I would have done it free, saved the country a lot of money," Trump said. "Then they say, 'Oh, but you'll get promotion.' Who cares? You don't think I get enough promotion? I get more promotion than any human being that's ever lived."

The White House originally said that the Trump Organization would do the event at cost — not for free — but did not offer specifics.

Trump on Monday continued to offer an extensive defense of his Miami resort, telling reporters, “It would've been the greatest G-7 ever."

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“I don't think it will be as exciting. I don't think it will be as good. It's going to cost the country a fortune," Trump added. The White House has yet to pick a location, although Camp David, a government-owned property, has been floated as a possibility.

Trump also attempted to shift the criticism to former President Barack Obama, bringing up Obama’s post-White House TV and book deals as examples of other presidents allegedly profiting off of the presidency.

“He has a deal with Netflix. When did they start talking about that?” Trump asked reporters. “That’s only a couple of examples.”

Barack and Michelle Obama received a lucrative book deal and Netflix contract as private citizens, after they had left government.

Trump, who gave control of his businesses to his children but did not put his assets in a blind trust, told reporters "other presidents were wealthy" and involved in business while in office, too.

"Not huge wealth," Trump said, "but they ran their businesses."

"George Washington, they say, had two desks. He had a presidential desk and a business desk."

Trump added that he was making a "fortune" at Trump National Doral Miami when he first bought it, but that changed when he ran for president. The Washington Post reported in May that, based on documents and a video obtained under Florida's public-records law, Doral has seen a decline in recent years.

"[Doral] was making a fortune. And then what happens? I announce I am going to run for office," Trump said. "All of a sudden some people didn't like it. They say the rhetoric was too tough," referencing his position on immigrants and his promise to build a border wall.

“Instead of having 100 percent of that market that loves you ... now you have 50," Trump added. “That's called politics."

Trump went on to falsely claim he was the first president since George Washington to donate his annual $400,000 salary.

John F. Kennedy and Herbert Hoover, who were both extremely wealthy, also rejected a salary. Obama, who donated his $1.4 million Nobel Peace Prize in 2010, also announced he would return 5 percent of his salary to the Treasury in 2013 as a sign of solidarity with furloughed federal workers.