By Agence France-Presse
President Donald Trump on Monday said his much-criticized attempt to stage the G7 at one of his golf courses was not intended to promote his business brand, arguing he’s too famous to “need promotion.”
“They say, ‘Oh, you get promotion.’ You don’t think I get enough promotion? I get more promotion than any human being that’s ever lived,” Trump said at a meeting of his cabinet in the White House. “I don’t need promotion.”
Trump’s latest defense of the now-scrapped plan to hold the international summit at his National Doral resort in Florida next year follows withering criticism.
Opponents say the bid smacked of corruption while even figures in the loyal Republican party baulked at the optics of the real estate tycoon holding the huge diplomatic event at his own hotel.
Trump on Saturday tweeted that he was pulling the idea and would consider other sites, including the presidential retreat of Camp David, near Washington, DC.
He has previously come under fire for the use of his golf resorts by White House staff and traveling members of the military, as well as his hiring of his daughter and son-in-law in senior White House advisory positions.
But Trump lashed out at accusations of corruption.
He noted that he gives away his presidential salary of about $450,000 and insisted that being president has personally cost him between $2-$5 billion in lost business revenues — a calculation that has not been independently tested.
“I don’t care. If you’re rich, it doesn’t matter,” Trump said. “I’m doing this for the country.”
“I’m very good at real estate, very, very good, much better than you even understand,” he boasted, adding that he’d gone above and beyond ethics requirements by handing legal control of his business to his children.
“I didn’t have to do that. I’m under no obligation to do it. I don’t know if you know it, George Washington, he ran his business simultaneously while he was president,” Trump said.
“George Washington was actually considered a very rich man at the time. But they ran their businesses. George Washington, they say, had two desks — he had a presidential desk and a business desk.”
The G7 at the Doral would have been “the greatest G7 ever,” he said. At a different location, “I don’t think it will be as exciting.”