Trump abandons plans to hold G7 summit at his golf resort as 'it looks lousy'

20 October 2019, 04:24 | Updated: 28 October 2019, 15:26

Donald Trump has abruptly abandoned plans to hold the next G7 meeting at his Doral golf resort in Florida.

In a rare U-turn, the US president said his administration will "immediately" begin searching for another site, with his acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney admitting: "I think he knows people think it looks lousy."

Mr Trump had faced accusations that he was using the presidency to enrich himself by hosting the international summit at a private resort owned by his family.

On Saturday night, he tweeted: "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."

Mr Mulvaney had said on Thursday that the White House's staff had concluded the Doral resort was "far and away the best physical facility" for the summit.

He also claimed that officials had visited 10 sites across the US before making their decision.

Speaking to Fox News after the decision to change the venue, Mr Mulvaney said: "At the end of the day he still considers himself to be in the hospitality business.

"He wanted to put on the absolute best show, the best visit that he possibly could and he was very confident in doing that at Doral.

"(But) I think it's the right decision to change."

Mr Trump lamented the criticism his administration has faced, writing: "I thought I was doing something very good for our Country by using Trump National Doral, in Miami, for hosting the G-7 Leaders.

"It is big, grand, on hundreds of acres, next to MIAMI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, has tremendous ballrooms & meeting rooms, and each delegation would have its own 50 to 70 unit building. Would set up better than other alternatives.

"I announced that I would be willing to do it at NO PROFIT or, if legally permissible, at ZERO COST to the USA. But, as usual, the Hostile Media & their Democrat Partners went CRAZY!"

There were suggestions that Mr Trump's decision could have been corrupt, with Democrats saying they would investigate the announcement and even a number of Republicans expressing scepticism over the president's choice.

Shortly before Mr Trump made his U-turn, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden waded into the controversy, saying: "Hosting the G7 at Trump's hotel? A president should never be able to use the office for personal gain."

A clause in the US constitution prohibits government employees from receiving fees or profits from foreign or domestic governments without congressional approval, and many analysts in the US speculated that Mr Trump's move to host the conference at his own resort may have put him in breach of that.

Alternative venues now being considered to host the gathering of world leaders include the presidential retreat Camp David near Washington DC, which hosted the conference in 2012.

This is despite the fact that Mr Mulvaney had ruled Camp David out on Thursday because it was too remote and too small, telling reporters: "I understand the folks who participated in it hated it and thought it was a miserable place to have the G-7."

The chief of staff also said that sites on Hawaii and Utah were also being looked at as potential hosts for the G7 summit in 2020, but it is now unclear whether they are still under consideration.