President Donald Trump defended the idea of hosting next year's G-7 summit at his Miami golf resort, extolling the amenities of his club and insisting he would not profit off the venture.
"From my standpoint, I'm not going to make any money," Trump said at a news conference Monday at the G-7 in Biarritz, France. "In my opinion, I'm not going to make any money. I don't want to make money. I don't care about making money."
But after saying his team surveyed a dozen possible sites for the summit, the president pointed to Trump National Doral Miami's "series of magnificent buildings" as the draw. Trump said each member country "can have their own villa, or own bungalow" at the 800-acre golf resort and praised features such as the "incredible conference rooms" and "incredible restaurants."
"With Doral, we have a series of magnificent buildings, we call them bungalows, they each hold from 50 to 70 very luxurious rooms with magnificent rooms," Trump said. "We have incredible conference rooms, incredible restaurants, it's like such a natural. We wouldn't even have to do the work that they did here, and they've done a beautiful job, they've really done a beautiful job."
"And what we have also is Miami and we have many hundreds of acres so that in terms of parking, in terms of all of the things that you need," he continued. "The ballrooms are among the biggest in Florida and the best, it's brand new. And my people wanted it."
Trump said officials would give a presentation "fairly soon" about the other possible locations that were considered.
"They went to places all over the country and they came back and said this is where we would like to be," Trump added.
Trump also repeated an assertion he made before a group of Pennsylvania workers earlier this month, claiming the presidency has cost him "$3 billion to $5 billion." He added: "At some point, I'm going to detail that."
"I used to get a lot of money to make speeches," he said. "Now, I give speeches all the time. You know what I get? Zippo. And that's good. And I did a lot of great jobs and great deals that I don't do anymore, and I don't want to do them because the deals I'm making are great deals for the country. And that's to me much more important."
Trump expressed interest in holding the summit at his Miami club earlier Monday during a bilateral meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Miami is a "great location" for next year's summit, he said at that meeting, adding that it would be held next to the city's international airport.
"It's one of the biggest airports, takes planes from everywhere. Sometimes, you have hours and hours of driving to get to certain locations," he said.
"You’ll only have a five-minute drive, which is good," he added while turning to Merkel.
When asked if it would be held at his Miami golf resort, located less than five miles from the airport, the president said it was a strong contender.
"They love the location of the hotel," he said. "We haven’t found anything that’s even close to competing with it."
The president has come under scrutiny throughout his presidency for how often he visits Trump-branded properties, which in turn leads to tax dollars being spent at his businesses. Since taking office, the president has spent nearly 300 days at Trump properties, according to an NBC News count.
Meanwhile, government watchdogs and lawmakers have sued the president for allegedly violating the emoluments clause of the Constitution, which bars public officials from receiving gifts or cash from foreign or state governments without congressional approval, over foreign government officials staying at his properties. The Trump Organization has said it is turning over all profits from representatives of foreign governments over to the U.S. Treasury, and just last month, a federal appeals court tossed out one of the most prominent emoluments clause suits he faced.
"This is a clear violation of the emoluments clause if he accepts any money from foreign governments for anything at the resorts," tweeted Richard Painter, who served as former President George W. Bush's ethics counsel, of Trump's idea to host the G-7 at his club.
Before taking office, Trump chose to turn control of his company over to his two adult sons and a senior Trump Organization executive rather than divest from his large portfolio.
"Under no circumstances should the G-7 be held at Trump’s Doral resort, which would be one of the most egregious examples of corruption and self-dealing in a presidency replete with them," Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said in a statement. "Trump is using the office to line his own pockets at the expense of the American people and our standing in the world. Requiring our allies to spend money at the president's hotel to attend the G-7 would be an insult to them and a violation of our Constitution’s emoluments clause."
Trump's Doral resort has seen profits dip significantly since 2015, according to Trump's federal disclosures. In two years, the resort’s net operating income had fallen by 69 percent, The Washington Post reported.