BIARRITZ, France — President Trump suggested on Monday that he plans to host next year’s Group of 7 summit meeting for world leaders at his Doral luxury golf resort near Miami, once again raising ethical issues about the mixing of his businesses and presidency.
If he follows through, the spectacle of the annual gathering of heads of state at a Trump-owned property would be the highest-profile example of the president’s willingness to flout the boundaries that have historically constrained such presidential activities.
The president said on Monday that hosting the summit at Doral made perfect sense, calling the sprawling golf resort “a great place” and bragging that “it’s got tremendous acreage, many hundreds of acres, so we can handle whatever happens. It’s really — people are really liking it and plus it has buildings that have 50 to 70 units. And so each delegation can have its own building.”
Critics take a far different view. They argue that the Group of 7 summit — which attracts global attention and brings with it thousands of government officials and the international news media — would be a gold mine for Mr. Trump’s for-profit property, providing an immediate increase in revenue and raising its profile around the world.
The result, they say, would cross a line that previous presidents have avoided.
“Trump would basically be compelling foreign governments to spend money at his personal resort, while promoting the resort on the world stage,” said Deepak Gupta, an ethics lawyer with expertise in such cases.
“That’s inconsistent with both the letter and the spirit of the Constitution,” Mr. Gupta said. “Trump’s use of his official position for personal gain is so blatant and pervasive that I don’t think we’ve ever seen anything like it from a previous U.S. president.”
Mr. Trump has largely ignored such criticism since becoming president. As president-elect, he promised to step away from running his business but later put his children in charge of it. He pledged not to do any new deals, but did not put the business into a blind trust.
And since taking office, the president has repeatedly allowed the conduct of his official duties to be entangled with the facilities he owns. He hosted President Xi Jinping of China at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach for a summit in 2017. He has made presidential stops to his golf club in Ireland. And he frequently conducts business or attends events at other locations he owns, including the Trump hotel in Washington and his club in Bedminster, N.J.
Many past presidents have hosted world leaders at their private homes. Franklin D. Roosevelt invited Winston Churchill to his home in Hyde Park, N.Y. Lyndon Johnson hosted foreign dignitaries at his ranch in Texas, and George W. Bush did the same at his sprawling property in the state. Ronald Reagan liked to gather dignitaries at his property in Santa Barbara, Calif.
Ethics experts said there was nothing wrong with such examples of presidential hospitality. But they say the difference is that none were for-profit businesses that generate revenue flowing directly to the benefit of the president and his family. Mr. Trump’s Doral property and the other clubs and hotels he frequents are poised to make money off a Group of 7 summit, the critics point out.
“The idea that Trump Doral would even be a finalist so strongly suggests the possibility of corruption that the State Department’s inspector general should investigate the procurement process,” said Walter Shaub, a former director of the Office of Government Ethics. “This may also implicate constitutional concerns if the government is going to be paying a company that Trump owns.”
Mr. Shaub and others said the use by Mr. Trump of his property for official business would violate the Constitution’s emoluments clause, which prohibits presidents from receiving gifts or payments, including receiving financial benefit from foreign governments. Several state attorneys general, ethics groups and Democratic lawmakers have sued the president, arguing that he violated the Constitution. A number of those suits have been dismissed by the courts.
But Mr. Trump’s use of his properties to date would pale in comparison to the huge gathering surrounding the annual Group of 7 meeting. The Washington Post reported in June that the president was considering using the Doral resort for the gathering in 2020, when it is his turn to serve as host for the other world leaders.
On Monday, Mr. Trump told reporters that he was considering a site in Doral near the Miami airport for the Group of 7 summit, almost certainly referring to the Trump National Doral, although he did not use the name.
“They love the location of the hotel,” he said. “And they also like the fact that it’s right next to the airport, the convenience. And it’s Miami, Doral Miami. So it’s a great area. We haven’t found anything that could even come close to competing it, really competing with it, especially when you look at the location being right next to the airport.”
Mr. Trump did not address possible ethical concerns about holding the leaders summit at the golf club. If he does not change his mind, however, critics said they are likely to try to challenge the president.
“Every time he uses his official position to promote the resort, Trump personally enriches himself and his family,” Mr. Gupta said. “It’s a serious ethical problem whenever a public official uses his official position for private gain in such a direct manner. Trump does that repeatedly, and has done so since taking office.”
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