Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, one of the Democrats seeking to unseat President Trump in 2020, urged Republicans in Congress to envoke a clause of the Constitution that potentially would block President Trump from hosting the G-7 summit at a Trump resort in Doral, Fla.
The White House announced the venue of the summit, scheduled to take place between June 10 and 12, at a news conference on Thursday, which incited controversy immediately, raising questions about the optics and ethics of the president personally profiting off an official government event.
Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney attempted to quell outcry by telling the media that Trump will not make any money off the event, adding that the Trump National Doral Golf Club will be providing the location and services at a cost.
“The Constitution clearly bars the president from accepting gifts from foreign powers,” O’Rourke tweeted. “Congress must use its authority to enforce the Emoluments Clause now to stop President Trump from profiting off of the G-7 Summit by hosting it at his own property.”
“The question isn’t whether President Trump has violated the emoluments clause– or committed other high crimes. The question is whether Republicans in Congress believe our president is above the law,” he also wrote.
The emoluments clause was intended to prevent foreign states from influencing the U.S. government and generally prohibits presidents from taking any forms of payment from other nations.
Trump has argued that the clause referred to a ban on outright bribes, not business transactions, and that he will continue to do business with foreign governments at his hotels.
Trump repeatedly has faced allegations of enriching himself by utilizing his business entities around the globe to house or host foreign dignitaries and domestic politicians.
Another presidential candidate, Julián Castro, a former San Antonio, Texas mayor who later served as Housing and Urban Development secretary under President Barack Obama, also slammed Trump over his decision to hold the summit at one of his properties, which was one of 12 potential sites being considered for the event, according to Mulvaney.
“It’s a terrible decision by President Trump to put the G-7 on a gulf course at his own hotel,” Castro said at a campaign event in Des Moines, Iowa, on Thursday. “He’s putting the G-7 at his own resort to try and make money. It’s unethical. It’s one more example of why he is so unfit for office and he’s going to have the American taxpayers pay for security costs and everything else that goes into hosting the G-7 straight into his pocket and it’s completely inexcusable and the American people should hold him accountable for that.”
In September, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., also looking to take the White House in 2020, accused Trump of urging Vice President Pence to stay at the Trump International Golf Club in Doonbeg, Ireland, on an official trip in hopes of cashing in from the stay.