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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "G7 summit"

Whoa. Trump cancels G7 Doral invite

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This is probably going to go down as one of the shortest-lived “scandals” in the history of the Trump presidency. On Thursday, the White House Chief of Staff announced that next year’s G-7 summit would be held at President Trump’s Doral resort in Florida. That led to the usual screeching and rending of clothing from the peanut gallery but the impending national nightmare only lasted two days. Yesterday the President reversed course and said they would look for a new location. (NBC News)

Following widespread bipartisan criticism, President Donald Trump said Saturday his Doral resort in Florida would not host next year’s Group of Seven summit of world leaders after all.

“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.”

The president had been under fire for the choice, announced Thursday by acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, because it could ultimately benefit him financially. Mulvaney said world leaders would be able to stay at his resort at cost.

This was one of the most surprising headlines of the year, at least to me. And that’s for a couple of reasons. First of all, since when does Donald Trump back down on any decision that he’s made, be it for better or for worse? Not very often. The President seems to enjoy a good fight more than actually winning the confrontation and if both the media and the Democrats wanted to complain about the G-7 being held at Doral, I’d assumed he’d be bashing them over it at rallies and fundraising off the kerfuffle.

The aspect of this “scandal” that makes it even more surprising is that it should have been such an easy fight to win. There’s no denying the fact that if the Doral had been booked for the summit in a “business as usual” fashion it could, at least in theory, put some extra cash from foreign world leaders in the Trump family’s coffers. So the emoluments clause would have been in play, at least enough to give the press something else to complain about for a few months.

But the Doral could have offered to host the event without charging the visiting world leaders anything and written their expenses off as a loss. The prestige of hosting the event would likely still be more than enough for them and they’d likely have made up the loss through increased traffic. (Surely some people would be interested in booking a suite just to watch the comings and goings.)

Some sort of deal along those lines would have swung the ball back into Trump’s court, allowing him to justifiably claim that he was saving the taxpayer’s money. Going to Camp David is going to run up a bill footed by the voters. (Granted, the amount of money we’re talking about in comparison to the national budget isn’t even a rounding error, but the principle still stands.)

Besides, it’s not as if these summits haven’t been held in posh, privately owned locations on a regular basis. Last year when Justin Trudeau was hosting, the event was held at Hotel Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu, a world-class, luxury resort in Quebec. And while Trudeau may not own the resort personally, if you don’t think the actual owners aren’t players on the political field you’re fooling yourself.

This reversal leaves me pondering just where things stand in the Oval Office these days. Exit question(s): Is Trump privately getting worried about the ongoing impeachment follies to the point where he didn’t want to toss any more ammunition to Pelosi and company? And if so, did somebody steer him away from this idea… perhaps Rudy?

The post Whoa. Trump cancels G7 Doral invite appeared first on Hot Air.

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Rouhani retreats: On second thought, lift sanctions and then we’ll talk

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This smells of a stunt that backfired on Hassan Rouhani. The Iranian president semi-crashed the G-7 summit in Biarritz this weekend (at the invitation of French president Emmanuel Macron), and then suggested that he’d be willing to sit down with Donald Trump to deal directly with the crisis over Iran’s nuclear ambitions. His arrival and his expressed openness to direct talks seemed calculated to paint Trump as unstable and irrational, with the Iranians as all sweetness and rationality.

Then Trump surprisingly embraced the idea as a way to dial down the tensions between the US and Iran, and suddenly Rouhani hit reverse. Consider this bluff called:

A day after what looked like a possible diplomatic breakthrough with the U.S., Iranian President Hassan Rouhani backed off the idea of direct talks with President Trump, saying Washington must first lift sanctions against Tehran.

At the conclusion of the G-7 Summit in France on Monday, Trump had said that the leaders could meet, “if the circumstance were correct or right.” Rouhani initially seemed warm to such a meeting, remarking, “I would not miss it.”

However, by Tuesday, Rouhani’s initial enthusiasm appeared to have ebbed. Unless the U.S. ended economic sanctions on Iran, he said, any such meeting between the two leaders would be just a photo op and “that is not possible.”

Really? Then why show up at the G-7 where Trump was ostentatiously available for a meet-and-greet? Macron was too busy hosting the gig to spend much time on a side summit with Iran, even if Macron was inclined to conduct one at all. There would be no other reason for Iran to participate even as an observer to the G-7, especially at the high-ranking level of its president acting as such.

After Rouhani backed off, Javad Zarif protested, perhaps a bit too much, at the idea of direct talks:

Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif also told Iran’s news agency IRNA Tuesday that a one-on-one meeting between Rouhani and Trump was “not imaginable.”

“I said this in Biarritz — unless the U.S. comes back to the 5 plus 1 and performs the JCPOA but still at that time there will be no one-on-one talks,” he said referring to the five members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany and the official acronym for the Iran nuclear deal.

It certainly seemed imaginable enough when Rouhani arrived in Biarritz and suggested the possibility. It must have also seemed imaginable to Ayatollah Ali Khameini, the true power in Iran, when he allowed Rouhani to conduct this stunt. Rouhani’s sudden backpedal suggests not only that this was a bluff, but also that Rouhani doesn’t have the authority to enter into negotiations anyway.

Trump must have seen this coming when Macron told him about Rouhani’s invitation. If Rouhani had accepted Trump’s suggestion to meet, that would have dominated the G-7 coverage and forced the media to paint him as a reasonable leader — even if others would have understandable concern over what Trump might do in such a meeting. Rouhani rejecting the invitation makes Iran and Rouhani look foolish and weak, and it will likely set back their efforts to split the EU from the US on sanctions. Next time, Khameini should send a better stuntman.

The post Rouhani retreats: On second thought, lift sanctions and then we’ll talk appeared first on Hot Air.

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Trump to G7 — and Russia: Come-on-a my house?

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Next year, the US plays host to the G-7 summit that concluded today in Biarritz, France. Donald Trump wants to take that role seriously as well as literally, it seems. In remarks at the summit, Trump extolled the Doral Resort Hotel as the best place to hold the conference.

That would be the Trump National Doral Resort, actually:

Axios first reported Trump’s interest in Doral as the venue last month, but this is the first time Trump has made that public. Faster than anyone could say emoluments, the promotion raised eyebrows:

Aides say Trump has sought for months to hold the summit there, but many of his advisers have warned against the idea, concerned about the ethics of the president profiting from an official government event.

Since taking office, Trump has faced pushback about his official visits to his properties from some of his aides, including inside the White House Counsel’s Office. They worried about the appearance that he was using the power of the presidency to direct taxpayer money into his own pockets, according to current and former White House officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations.

Trump has not divested from his private business interests and has regularly visited them during the presidency, eating out at his own hotel in D.C. and spending many weekends at his properties in New Jersey and Florida, where GOP officials often hold fundraisers.

Trump declared that the other world leaders in the G-7 “love the location of the hotel,” but one has to wonder if they’ll love the weather. If it’s held in the summer next year, Miami will be a less-than-pleasant venue, even if the logistics might be superior at Doral. Beyond that, though, the president’s promotion of his own resort will once again fuel this debate and make it look as though Trump wants to personally profit from his office. While that’s not the same thing as “emoluments” in a constitutional sense, voters might consider it a little bit … swampy, let’s say.

The commercial value of using Miami might pale in comparison to its political value regardless of the weather. Holding it in Miami would constitute something of a second GOP convention for Trump in the run-up to the election in a very critical state for his re-election. Trump’s presence before, during, and after a G-7 summit in Miami would give his campaign all sorts of earned media, plus plenty of economic benefit to south Florida. Trump won’t win those counties, but if he can narrow the scope of his loss in them, he has a much better chance of carrying the state two months later.

Another invitation might be less explicable. With the G-7 firmly aligned against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and seizure of Crimea, Trump suggested inviting Vladimir Putin next year anyway. Trump blamed Barack Obama for Putin’s absence:

President Trump on Monday said he would “certainly” invite Russian President Vladimir Putin to attend next year’s Group of Seven (G-7) summit when it’s hosted by the United States.

“Would I invite him? I would certainly invite him. Whether or not he could come psychologically, I think that’s a tough thing for him to do,” Trump said during a press conference at the close of this weekend’s G-7 summit in France. …

“Whether you like it or not, and it may not be politically correct, but we have a world to run,” Trump said ahead of last year’s G-7 meeting. “And in the G-7, which used be the G-8, they threw Russia out. They should let Russia come back in because we should have Russia at the negotiating table.”

Trump claimed this weekend that multiple other G-7 attendees signaled they would support readmitting Russia to the group. But he did not provide any names or specific accounts, and other world leaders have said Russia rejoining would be contingent on deescalating its involvement in Ukraine.

We do have a world to run, but it’s best run when nations get penalized for invading other nations and seizing their land. When NPR reporter Yamiche Alcindor followed up on the issue, Trump accused her of covering for Obama:

“Why do you keep using the misleading statement that Russia outsmarted President Obama when other countries have said the reason Russia was kicked out was very clearly because they annexed Crimea?” asked PBS White House correspondent Yamiche Alcindor during the late afternoon press conference in Biarritz, France. “Why would you keep repeating what some people see as a clear lie?”

“I know you like President Obama,” Trump shot back, “but it was annexed during his term. If it was during my term, I would say, ‘Sorry, folks, I made a mistake.’ … Obama was pure and simply outsmarted.”

It’s worth noting, however, that Russia still holds Crimea and it still has troops in eastern Ukraine, where no one doubts Kyiv’s sovereignty. When this started is a moot point; the fact that it’s still ongoing is the issue. So far Trump hasn’t succeeded in getting Russia to retreat, and at least so far doesn’t appear terribly interested in pressing the issue. That is a mistake, especially in the signal it sends to other independent nations on Russia’s borders.

French president Emmanuel Macron shot down the idea almost as soon as Trump floated it. Both he and Angela Merkel want Russia to get out of Ukraine first:

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Monday G7 leaders had not reached a consensus on inviting Russia to next year’s G7 summit in the United States.

Macron added that he and German Chancellor Angela Merkel would organize a summit in the coming weeks with the Russian and Ukrainian leaders to obtain results on the crisis in Ukraine.

Until that happens, Putin will likely remain on the outside looking in. As he should be.

In case readers don’t get the reference in the headline, here’s Rosemary Clooney performing a small part of her classic song, which you’ll recognize from fine Italian-cuisine dining everywhere:

The post Trump to G7 — and Russia: Come-on-a my house? appeared first on Hot Air.

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