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Trump’s G-7 scam further illustrates he’s a faux-rich moocher — and not the billionaire he claims to be

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David Cay Johnston
David Cay Johnston

The latest proof that Donald Trump is not, and never has been, a multi-billionaire emerged Monday in France of all places.

The proof came from Donald’s own mouth, as many proofs do no matter how much our major news organizations fail to grasp the significance of his words.

Speaking in Biarritz, after the G7 meeting where six other world leaders treated him as a bizarre curiosity rather than an equal, Trump confirmed that he intends to host the next G7 meeting at one of his Florida golf resorts. He asserted that federal officials had looked at various possible locations and decided that a Trump property near the Miami Airport was the best.

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In doing so he reiterated his claim that being the leader of the free world is a money-losing job. But, Trump quickly added, he is oh so happy to forgo a fortune because he loves America more than money.

“Probably it’ll cost me anywhere from $3 to $5 billion to be President,” Trump said Monday. But, he went on, no matter.

The home page for Trump’s Miami resort (Trump)

“The only thing I care about is this country. Couldn’t care less, otherwise, I wouldn’t have done it. People have asked me, ‘What do you think it costs?’ and between opportunity, not doing things … I used to get a lot of money to make speeches. Now I give speeches all the time. You know what I get? Zippo, and that’s good. And I did a lot of great jobs and great deals that I don’t do anymore. I don’t want to do them because the deals I’m making are great deals for the country. And that’s, to me, much more important.”

To be clear, to make $3 billion giving speeches even at $1 million per would require Trump to give more than two speeches a day, seven days a week, for four years.

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There’s no evidence Trump ever got close to $1 million for a speech. His fee prior to announcing his presidential bid in 2015 was reported to be as much as $200,000. That would require ten speeches a day seven days a week…. never mind.

Fixated on Fox

Trump, who wastes hours each day watching Fox to check on how much the Murdoch outlet glorifies him, has never worked that hard.

As I often say, Trump just makes stuff up.

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But let’s assume that Trump actually is a patriot whose motives are as pure as the freshly laid snow, that he really cares not a whit about forgoing $3 billion, not to mention $5 billion, because he is so dedicated and rich that money is meaningless to him.

Why oh why, then, would he propose to hold the December G7 meeting at his Trump  National Doral Golf Club?

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Trump Hotels spares no words of self-praise in describing the Doral:

“The resort’s unparalleled golf experience is even further enhanced by the extensive retail offerings spread throughout the property. The 7,000 square foot golf shop, a leader in both fashion golf brands and equipment, is the crown jewel of retail at Trump National Doral.  As one of the pioneer shops in the world, the golf shop carries the most classical golf apparel to the most cutting-edge, fashion brands geared to those golfers who want to make a statement with more than just their score.  Here you will find limited-edition merchandise and specialty items along with the largest collection of golf clubs, junior and women’s apparel at any resort in the world.  The Blue Monster shop, the only location on property to get the famed Blue Monster logo, is a perfect spot for traditional golf apparel, accessories and gifts.”

Despite such boasts, the Doral managers know that Miami is brutally hot and humid in summer, which is why this week it offers a “minimum 20%” discount off the rack rate (which only drunks and economic idiots pay). Of course, the G7 meeting would be in December when, ignoring climate disruption, the temperatures are generally mild.

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And even if Trump wanted to just to show off the Doral ballrooms, which he said are among the biggest in Florida, why would he charge for its services? If he’s really a multibillionaire for whom money matters not, then why not do it all gratis?

Chump Change to a Real Billionaire

After all, even the loss of room rentals, food and beverage revenue for the few days of a G7 meeting is immaterial to a billionaire. To any multibillionaire, the cost would be insignificant, a trifle hardly worth the time to issue invoices.

Providing the Doral gratis would come with an extra benefit. Instead of those questions from pesky journalists about the emoluments clause in our Constitution, Trump could declare how charitable and public-spirited he is.

Keep in mind that Trump said last week he doesn’t know the meaning of that 18th Century word, put in our Constitution three times by the Framers. So much for preparing for his duties before assuming office.

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So why not just have everyone come and stay for free? What could better show that Trump really is a super-rich patriot whose sole concern is for the country, not his bottom line?

Hosting guests as a social obligation was, after all, how the European aristocrats behaved for centuries.

British aristocrats in the 19th Century hosted their peers for weeks and months on end, as anyone who has read Jane Austen knows. (You can rest assured Trump has never read Austen, has no idea about the sexist nature of British inheritance laws and has not a clue about romantic, as opposed to commercial, marriage or of social obligations motivated by class.)

Actually, rich Americans did the same at lavish estates like the Biltmore in North Carolina and Hearst Castle in California. Their guests included more than a few faux-rich moochers like Trump.

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Instead, Trump swatted away questions Monday about whether hosting the G7 at one of his Florida golfing operations would be profiting off the presidency, not to mention violating the emoluments clause in our Constitution.

Trying to Keep the Doors Open

In classic Trump style, he used a question about ethics to promote the Doral, built on 800 acres near the Miami airport. For two minutes he held forth on its wonders, never mentioning that he is in hock to Deutsche Bank under a variable interest rate loan to keep the doors open.

Hosting the G7 at the Doral could do more to keep Trump afloat than the interest rate cuts he wants from the Federal Reserve, whose chairman (a Trump appointee) he has called an “enemy” of America.

The G7 could meet at Camp David, the sprawling Maryland mountains retreat that we taxpayers provide presidents for just such purposes. Indeed, that’s where President Obama hosted the G8 meeting seven years ago, though the modern Tsar, as The Economist magazine calls Vladimir Putin, sent his deputy instead.

Russia is out of that elite group because it is for leaders of democratic nations, something the Russian Federation is not. Its ouster was punishment for invading Crimea in 2014, something Trump says he would forgive.

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Gathering at Camp David would mean much smaller taxpayer burdens paying for necessary security for leaders of countries that account for about 40% of the world economic output. It’s remote, it’s fenced, it’s secure and there’s no way for demonstrators, peaceful or malevolent, to get anywhere near the foreign leaders and their entourages.

As for the emoluments clause, his Doral plan is illegal, according to George W. Bush’s ethics chief, the University of Minnesota law professor Richard Painter.

“This is a clear violation of the emoluments clause,” Painter tweeted after Trump spoke Monday.

Would any real billionaire put up with such accusations when he could wave them off and prove he really does love America more than money? We reported, you decide.

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Featured image: The entrance to Trump’s troubled Miami resort (Google Streetview)

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