Mulvaney defends Doral selection: Trump 'still considers himself to be in the hospitality business'

Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, asked about the original choice of President Donald Trump's private Miami golf resort to host next year's Group of Seven summit, said Sunday that Trump "still considers himself to be in the hospitality business.

Following bipartisan criticism, Trump reversed the decision Saturday, saying his administration would begin the search for a new location, "including the possibility of Camp David, immediately."

"We talked about it at great length last night," Mulvaney told "Fox News Sunday," adding that Trump "was honestly surprised at the level of pushback."

"At the end of the day he still considers himself to be in the hospitality business and he saw an opportunity to take the biggest leaders from around the world and he wanted to put on the absolute best show, the best visit that he possibly could, and he was very comfortable doing that at Doral," Mulvaney said. "I think we were all surprised at the level of pushback. I think it's the right decision to change and we'll have to find someplace else and my guess is we'll find someplace else the media won't like for another reason."

"Fox News Sunday" host Chris Wallace pushed back on Mulvaney saying Trump is in the hospitality business, pointing out that Trump is the president, not a hotel executive.

"Yeah, but it's his background," Mulvaney said, adding, "he's in the hotel business, or at least he was before he was president."

Related: Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney

19 PHOTOS
Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney
See Gallery
Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney
White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney announces that the G7 will be held at Trump National Doral, Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 17: Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney answers questions during a briefing at the White House October 17, 2019 in Washington, DC. Mulvaney answered a range of questions relating to the issues surrounding the impeachment inquiry of U.S. President Donald Trump, and other issues during the briefing. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney arrives to answer questions from reporters during a news briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., October 17, 2019. REUTERS/Leah Millis
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 08: White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney speaks to members of the media after a House Republican Conference meeting September 8, 2017 at the Capitol in Washington, DC. Mulvaney was on the Hill to push for the Trump Administration's Hurricane Harvey relief and debt limit package. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), holds up what he described as U.S. President Barack Obama regulations during a White House press briefing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, July 20, 2017. Mulvaney has called Trump's tax-cutting approach to the economy MAGAnomics, a spin on Trump's campaign slogan, 'Make America Great Again' and has repeatedly attacked the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) for its estimates on the impact of Republicans' plans to repeal and replace Obamacare. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Mick Mulvaney, Director of the Office of Management and Budget, speaks about 'MAGAnomics' during the daily press briefing in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington, DC, July 20, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 21: OMB Director Mick Mulvaney testifies during a Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee hearing on the budget for the Office of Management and Budget on Capitol Hill on June 21, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Astrid Riecken/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - Budget Director for President Donald Trump, Mick Mulvaney explains and defends the administration's 2018 budget to the House Budget Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC Wednesday May 24, 2017. (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - MAY 24: OMB Director Mick Mulvaney testifies before a House Budget Committee hearing in Longworth Building titled 'The President's FY2018 Budget' on May 24, 2017. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Mick Mulvaney, director of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB), listens during a House Budget Committee hearing on U.S. President Donald Trump's fiscal 2018 budget proposal in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, May 24, 2017. Trump would dramatically reduce the U.S. government's role in society with $3.6 trillion in spending cuts over the next 10 years in a budget plan that shrinks the safety net for the poor, recent college graduates and farmers. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 23: Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney holds a news conference to discuss the Trump Administration's proposed FY2017 federal budget in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House May 23, 2017 in Washington, DC. Calling it a 'New Foundation for American Greatness,' the $4.1 trillion budget for would cut programs for the poor, including health care, food stamps, student loans and disability payments while offering big tax cuts for the wealthy. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Mick Mulvaney, director of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, center, holds a volume of the fiscal year 2018 budget while speaking with Davita Vance-Cooks, director of the Government Publishing Office (GPO), left, during a tour of the GPO production facility in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, May 19, 2017. President�Donald Trump�will send to Congress on Tuesday a proposal for balancing the federal budget within 10 years through deep cuts to discretionary and safety net spending, according to a U.S. official. Photographer: T.J. Kirkpatrick/Bloomberg via Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 02: White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer (R) walks into the briefing room with OMB Director Mick Mulvaney (L) and Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly (C), to brief the media on President Trump's budget, at the White House (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), right, speaks as Gray Davis, former governor of California, listens during the Leaders In Global Healthcare and Technology (LIGHT) conference at Stanford University in Stanford, California, U.S., on Thursday, May 11, 2017. The LIGHT conference gathers leaders from a broad cross-section of executives and top policy makers in the health-care field to discuss the latest developments, challenges and opportunities shaping the healthcare industry. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 16: Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney arrives for a briefing in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House March 16, 2017 in Washington, DC. Mulvaney took questions about President Donald Trump's federal budget blueprint which was released Thursday. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 13: U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price (L) and Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney talk to reporters following the release of the Congressional Budget Office report on the proposed American Health Care Act outside the White House West Wing March 13, 2017 in Washington, DC. Price said 'We disagree strenuously' with the findings of the CBO report about the Republican's attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
US Vice President Mike Pence (R) delivers remarks before swearing in Mick Mulvaney (L) as Director of the Office of Management and Budget in Washington, DC, on February 16, 2017. / AFP / NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 16: U.S. Vice President Mike Pence (C) Mick Mulvaney (L), swears as new Office of Management and Budget Director, as his wife Pam Mulvaney holds a bible during a ceremony in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on February 16, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 4: Reps. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., left, and Randy Hultgren, R-Ill., attend a House Financial Services Committee hearing in Rayburn Building titled Semi-Annual Testimony on the Federal Reserves Supervision and Regulation of the Financial System,' November 4, 2015. Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen testified. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Mulvaney said Trump understood that "people think" the decision to host a major international summit at Trump National Doral Miami "looks lousy."

Mulvaney's answers came after Trump announced in a Saturday night tweet that the event would no longer be hosted at his Miami resort.

"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," he tweeted. "We will begin the search for another site, including the possibility of Camp David, immediately."

Trump initially defended the move, saying on Twitter, "I thought I was doing something very good for our Country by using Trump National Doral, in Miami, for hosting the G-7 Leaders." The president also tweeted that Doral had many advantages, including "tremendous ballrooms & meeting rooms," and that hosting the event would come "at ZERO COST to the USA."

Mulvaney announced that the president had awarded his own business the event during a Thursday press conference in which the acting chief of staff made comments about the president's Ukraine dealings at the center of the House impeachment inquiry — remarks he walked back later that day.

The decision — which Trump had teased at the summit in Biarritz, France, over the summer — came under immediate criticism that Trump was seeking to personally profit off the presidency. The White House insisted that would not be the case amid the widespread concern that Trump would be violating the emoluments clause of the Constitution, which bars any cash or gifts from foreign government officials to the president that are not otherwise approved by Congress.

Trump has already come under scrutiny for how often he visits Trump-owned and Trump-branded properties as president, which leads to tax dollars being spent at his business. Trump is also the subject of multiple lawsuits and congressional investigations accusing him of either violating the emoluments clause or profiting off the presidency.

In a Thursday statement, House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., said Mulvaney's G-7 announcement was "among the most brazen examples yet of the president's corruption." His committee announced a probe in August when the president first floated the idea of hosting the upcoming G-7 at his resort.

Read Full Story