President Donald Trump on Monday griped to reporters about "this phony Emoluments Clause" as he pushed back on criticisms of his now-canceled plan to host the next Group of Seven summit at his own Miami golf resort.
Trump, speaking at length to the press during a White House Cabinet meeting, shrugged off that constitutional clause while suggesting that his predecessor, Barack Obama, may have been securing business deals while in office.
"Obama made a deal for a book. Is that running a business?" Trump said, before adding sarcastically: "I'm sure he didn't even discuss it while he was president. Yeah."
The Emoluments Clause states that "no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State."
Obama "has a deal with Netflix," Trump added. "When did they start talking about that?" There is no evidence that Obama was negotiating personal business deals while in office. The New York Times first reported on Obama's talks with Netflix in March 2018.
Trump continued: "George Washington they say had two desks. He had a presidential desk and a business desk. I don't think you people with this phony Emoluments Clause — and by the way, I would say that it's cost me anywhere from $2 [billion] to $5 billion to be president. And that's okay."
There is no evidence that Trump lost billions by becoming president. He has refused to release his tax returns and is currently fighting multiple lawsuits with state and federal officials who are trying to acquire copies of his financial records. Unlike other modern presidents, Trump did not fully divest from his business interests upon taking office. His sons, Eric and Donald Jr., continue to run the Trump Organization.
The decision to host the next G-7 summit at the Trump National Doral Miami, revealed Thursday by acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, was immediately met with fiery condemnations from Democrats and ethics experts. Even some moderate Republicans reacted negatively.
The decision was scrapped by Saturday night.