Defending himself against accusations of seeking to profit off the presidency by planning to host a G7 summit next year at one of his resorts, Donald Trump on Monday estimated that being president had cost him $3bn to $5bn and said: “I don’t want to make money. I don’t care about making money.”
Trump took questions from reporters in a joint appearance with the French president, Emmanuel Macron, at the conclusion of the G7 summit in Biarritz. The US is slated to host the summit next year.
The US president confirmed for the first time that his struggling Trump National Doral Miami resort in Florida is high in the running to host the event.
Hosting the G7 will cost American taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. Hosting the event at Doral, an 800-acre golf resort close to the Miami airport, would divert a torrent of taxpayer cash into Trump’s own coffers.
But Trump said he had been losing money as president.
“I’ve spent, and I think I will, in a combination of loss and opportunity, probably it will cost me anywhere from $3bn to $5bn to be president,” Trump said. “And the only thing I care about is this country.
I used to make a lot of money to give speeches. Now I give speeches all the time, and what do I get? Zippo
“People have asked me, ‘What do you think it costs’” to be president, he said.
“I used to make a lot of money to give speeches. Now I give speeches all the time, and what do I get? Zippo.”
As a number apparently without basis in any vet-able balance sheet, the “$3bn to $5bn” figure was beyond factchecking. But it appeared to be based on a separate false estimation by Trump that exaggerated the size of his eponymous company by about 15 times.
Trump proceeded to dump on the assembled press a real estate brochure’s worth of stats and facts about his Doral property.
“Doral happens to be ... only five minutes from the airport, the airport’s right next door,” he said. “And by the way, my people looked at 12 sites, all good, but some were two hours from the airport, some four hours.
“We have a series of magnificent buildings, we call them bungalows, they each hold from 50 to 70 rooms, they have magnificent views. And what we have also is Miami.”
The president went on to extol the abundance of parking at his resort, where net operating income has fallen by 69% in the last two years, the Washington Post reported.
“The ballrooms are among the biggest in Florida, and the best,” Trump said. “Each country can have their own villa, or their own bungalow, and the bungalows like I say have a lot of units in them.”
He concluded: “I don’t want to make money. I don’t care about making money … It’s not about me, it’s about getting the right location.”
Later, when asked about the new British prime minister, Boris Johnson, Trump said “I love the UK” and listed his golf properties there, naming Turnberry and Aberdeen. But he also mentioned Doonbeg, which is in the Republic of Ireland.
Trump’s business ties, which he has not fully disclosed to voters, have raised concerns that he could have violated a constitutional ban on government officials taking emoluments – profits derived from the holding of public office – from foreign governments or actors.
His continued ownership of the Trump Organization means, for example, that an untold share of the hundreds of thousands of dollars spent by foreign governments and tens of millions of dollars spent by domestic interest groups at the Trump International hotel in Washington could have found their way to Trump himself.
The Trump Organization claims to reimburse the US treasury where appropriate.
Trump-branded properties have had mixed success since Trump moved into the White House. A flood of foreign leaders, security spending and staff could stop that skid.
The US last hosted the G7 summit (then the G8 with the inclusion of Russia, which was expelled in 2014 and which Trump now wants to readmit) in 2012 at Camp David, Maryland, a government site. In 2004, the US hosted at Sea Island, Georgia.