WHITE HOUSE - Next year's Group of Seven leaders' summit will be held at one of U.S. President Donald Trump's properties in the state of Florida.
In making the announcement Thursday, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney defended the site selection process from immediate criticism that Trump will personally benefit from hosting the major event at one of his resorts.
"How is this not an emoluments violation?" he said, anticipating reporters' questions. "They're doing this at cost," Mulvaney explained, which makes it "dramatically cheaper" to be held at Doral rather than at any of the other finalist sites, including two in Utah and one in Hawaii, that senior officials visited to determine the best one.
The 320-hectare resort is 13 kilometers from Miami International Airport and has nearly 643 guest rooms.
Doral, built in the early 1960s, was purchased out of bankruptcy by Trump's company in 2012.
"Donald Trump's brand is probably strong enough as it is, and he doesn't need any more help on that. It's the most recognizable name in the English language and probably around the world right now," according to Mulvaney. "There's no issue here on him profiting from this."
It is an issue, according to members of the opposition Democratic Party.
"This is corruption, plain and simple," responded one of the leading Democratic presidential candidates, Senator Elizabeth Warren.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler is calling the selection of Trump's personal property for the meeting as "among the most brazen examples yet of the president's corruption. He is exploiting his office and making official U.S. government decisions for his personal financial gain.The emoluments clauses of the Constitution exist to prevent exactly this kind of corruption."
Nadler adds that his committee "will continue investigating, litigating and legislating regarding these matters - including pressing for answers to our prior requests about the G-7 selection process."
Asked about this by VOA News, Mulvaney chastised Democrats for not focusing on what he termed the more important issues the country is facing, but said, "We'll look forward to participating in it."
Mulvaney, in response to another question, said Trump could invite Russian President Vladimir Putin to attend next year's summit, as is the privilege of the host leader, but there has been no discussion yet on whether to return the G-7 to the G-8 and again include Russia as a full member in the exclusive circle.
Russia was booted out of the group by the other countries in 2014 following its invasion of Crimea.