Try to follow the bouncing ball as best you can…
Last Thursday the White House announced that the 2020 G7 Conference would be held at a Trump-owned and operated hotel and conference center called the Doral International Resort in Miami, Florida.
Two days later, President Trump scrapped that idea amid mounting concerns from many Republicans about the obviously terrible optics of this idea. On Sunday, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney was a guest on “Fox News Sunday,” where he explained the reasoning behind this about-face. As the Associated Press reported:
President Donald Trump dropped plans to hold an international summit at his Doral resort in Florida after realizing “it looks lousy” to steer business to his own property, his acting chief of staff said Sunday.
Mick Mulvaney said Trump was “honestly surprised by the level of pushback” against his choice of Doral for next year’s Group of Seven gathering.
He added in an interview on “Fox News Sunday” that Trump “still considers himself to be in the hospitality business” and “wanted to put on the absolute best show.”
But he added: “I think he knows, people think it looks lousy.” [Pols emphasis]
Trump announced a rare backtrack Saturday night after facing accusations that he was using the presidency to enrich himself by hosting the international summit at the private resort owned by his family.
Today, President Trump went on a tirade to defend his original decision from his, uh, second decision. As Politico explains:
“You people with this phony emoluments clause,” Trump said as he took questions from reporters during a Cabinet meeting.
The president was defensive of his initial decision, asserting that hosting the G-7 summit at the Trump National Doral Miami resort would have saved taxpayer money because he “would have done it for free.” Trump blamed the reversal of his decision on Democrats and the media for invoking the emoluments clause as they questioned its legality.
Trump’s tirade doesn’t support the idea, pushed by surrogates over the weekend, that the President made a smart strategic decision all by himself. As the New York Times reported on Sunday evening:
“He had no choice,” Chris Christie, the former New Jersey governor and longtime friend of the president’s, said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.” “It shouldn’t have been done in the first place. And it’s a good move to get out of it and get that out of the papers and off the news.”
The president first heard the criticism of his choice of the Doral watching TV, where even some Fox News personalities were disapproving. By Saturday afternoon, his concerns had deepened when he put in a call to Camp David, where Mr. Mulvaney was hosting moderate congressional Republicans for a discussion of issues facing them, including impeachment, and was told the consensus was he should reverse himself. Those moderates are among the votes Mr. Trump would need to stick with him during an impeachment.
This is starting to feel a lot like Trump’s insistence that Hurricane Dorian was once on track to make landfall in Alabama — something that the President obsessed about for an entire week. There’s a 75% chance that Trump is still talking about this on Friday.