The acronym says it all, as Democrats introduced the THUG (Trump’s Heist Undermines the G-7) Act in an effort to thwart Trump’s decision to host next year’s Group of Seven (G-7) summit at one of his own resorts, benefiting his business and himself financially, both directly and through free advertising. The THUG Act seeks to deprive the Trump administration of any federal funding to host this official function at Trump’s National Doral Miami resort. The act would also force Trump to give Congress documents related to this decision to host the G-7 summit at his own property.
Representatives Lois Frankel (D-FL), Bennie Thompson (D-MS) and Steve Cohen (D-TN) introduced the THUG Act in the House yesterday, following Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney’s Thursday announcement that Trump’s property had been chosen for hosting next year’s G-7 summit, scheduled for June 10-12, 2020. A similar bill was also introduced in the Senate by Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI). Representative Frankel said in a statement, according to The Hill, “Mr. Trump is unashamed of his corruption. He is abusing the office of the Presidency and violating law by directing millions of dollars of American and foreign money to his family enterprises by holding an important meeting of world leaders at his Doral resort.” Senator Blumenthal said of Trump, according to The Hill, that “His contempt for the Constitution and American people seems boundless in profiting from his office through payments from foreign governments. …Congress must act to stop this plain craven abuse of power and corruption.” According to The Hill:
Democrats introduced legislation Friday that would block federal funding for next year’s Group of Seven (G-7) summit at Trump National Doral Miami. Democratic Reps. Lois Frankel (Fla.), Bennie Thompson (Miss.) and Steve Cohen (Tenn.) introduced the Trump’s Heist Undermines the G-7 (THUG) Act after acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney told reporters Thursday that the Trump resort near Miami will host the annual summit of world leaders June 10-12. … The legislation also would require Trump to provide Congress with any documents related to his decision to host the event at his property. The measure is unlikely to be taken up in the GOP-controlled Senate. … The acting chief of staff (Mulvaney) dismissed criticism that the property’s selection violates the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, which prohibits presidents from accepting payments from foreign countries, U.S. states or the federal government.
This bill is likely to have a much easier time of passing in the Democratic-majority House than the Republican-majority Senate, but we shall have to see how the votes fall. Amid questions from reporters, Mulavaney attempted to defend the decision, saying, according to The Hill, “I get the criticisms. So does [Trump]…but no, there’s no issue here on him profiting from this in any way, shape or form. If you think it’s going to help his brand, that’s great, but I would suggest that he doesn’t need much help promoting his brand.” Facts conflict with Mulvaney’s assertions, however, as Trump Doral has had financial issues, including a steep drop in its profits since Trump became president, according to the Miami Herald, with Trump’s personal “brand” possibly responsible for that decline:
The presidency hasn’t been kind to Donald Trump’s prized Miami resort. Even with the most famous hotelier in the world as its namesake, the Trump National Doral Miami has lost ground to its local competitors and seen profits drop since Donald Trump took office. A consultant the resort hired to contest its Miami-Dade tax bill told a magistrate late last year that a “negative connotation” with the Trump “brand” helps explain the decline. “There’s clearly been factors that have influenced the hotel,” Miami consultant Jessica Vachiratevanurak told a magistrate for the county’s Value Adjustment Board on Dec. 5. “There is \some negative connotation that is associated with the brand.”
That information leads one to wonder if Mulvaney himself was trying to boost Trump’s brand with his assertions in an effort to stay in Trump’s good graces. Of course, that ship may now have sailed off to a problematic fate, as at the same press conference where Mulvaney made the announcement about Trump’s resort being chosen to host the G-7, he also appeared to confess that there was indeed a quid pro quo with the Ukraine, comments he made on TV for posterity, but comments which he later tried to walk back, since they directly contradict President Trump’s protestations of innocence in that regard. That walk back doesn’t undo what Mulvaney said, however, and have left many unconvinced.
UPDATE, Sunday, 10/20/2019: Last evening, President Trump uncharacteristically backed down amid the criticism, saying that his Doral resort would no longer host the 2020 G-7. Trump made the announcement in a characteristically petulant manner on Twitter, however, writing in part, “based on both Media & Democrat Crazed and Irrational Hostility, we will no longer consider Trump National Doral, Miami, as the Host Site for the G-7 in 2020”. Trump’s decision to back down now makes the THUG (Trump’s Heist Undermines the G-7) Act unnecessary, although his other potential violations of the emoluments clause of the Constitution are already the subject of several lawsuits.