Trump laments G-7 move from Doral after bipartisan pushback

President Donald Trump speaks during a Cabinet meeting in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Monday, Oct. 21, 2019, in Washington. (AP)
Updated 21 October 2019

Trump laments G-7 move from Doral after bipartisan pushback

  • Trump said it would have been the greatest G-7 ever if held at his Doral resort outside Miami

WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump lashed out Monday at critics who prompted him to move next year’s Group of Seven summit from his private golf club in Florida, claiming he would have hosted it for free and now it will end up costing taxpayers “a fortune.”
Speaking at a Cabinet meeting, Trump said it would have been the greatest G-7 ever if held at his Doral resort outside Miami, but “Democrats went crazy” with criticisms that he would have violated the “phony” emoluments clause in the Constitution banning presidents from receiving gifts from foreign countries.
“I was willing to do this for free,” Trump said Monday, comparing it to his decision not to take his $400,000 presidential salary. “It will cost a fortune for the country.”
Trump brushed aside the criticism that hosting the summit would have been one big promotion for his brand. “You don’t think I get enough promotion? I get more promotion than any human being that’s ever lived.”
Trump reversed course Saturday on hosting the G-7 at Doral after Republicans joined Democrats in raising alarm. His acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, said that the president had realized that “it looks lousy” to steer business to his own property.
Mulvaney said last week that Doral was “far and away” the best venue because of its location near the Miami airport and separate buildings to host each country’s delegation.
Mulvaney listed more than a half dozen states visited in the screening process, including Tennessee, North Carolina, Hawaii and Utah. But convention, economic development and tourism officials in several of those states said they were unaware of any visits, and some didn’t even know their state was in the running.
Trump had earlier tweeted that the presidential retreat at Camp David, Maryland, was an alternate location but wasn’t specific when asked at the Cabinet meeting where the summit will be held now.
“I don’t think it will be as exciting,” he said.


MH17 probe reveals close ties between Russia, Ukraine rebels

Updated 14 November 2019

MH17 probe reveals close ties between Russia, Ukraine rebels

  • The Joint Investigation Team issued a fresh appeal for witnesses and revealed details of secure communications between Russian officials and rebels

THE HAGUE: An international team of investigators piecing together a criminal case in the July 2014 shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine said Thursday that evidence suggests links between Russia and separatists in the region were closer than previously believed.
The Joint Investigation Team issued a fresh appeal for witnesses and revealed details of secure communications between Russian officials and rebels in the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) rebel group in eastern Ukraine.
“The JIT has information that indicates that the influence of the Russian Federation extended to administrative, financial and military matters in the DPR,” the team said in a statement, adding that contacts between Russia and the rebels intensified in the first half of July 2014.
“There was almost daily telephone contact between the leadership of the DPR and their contacts in the Russian Federation,” the JIT said. “They spoke with leaders in Moscow, near the border with Ukraine and in Crimea. Communication mostly took place via secure telephones provided by the Russian security service.”
In June, the investigators announced they had charged four people, including three Russians, with murder over the July 17, 2014, downing of Flight MH17. All 298 passengers and crew on board the Amsterdam-Kuala Lumpur flight were killed.
The suspects are due to go on trial in a secure courtroom near Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport in March, though they are not in custody and will likely be tried in their absence.
Russia has repeatedly denied involvement in the downing.
But investigators said their probe revealed that “Russian influence on the DPR went beyond military support.”
The team, made up of detectives and prosecutors from the Netherlands, Malaysia, Australia, Belgium and Ukraine, last year said it was convinced that the Buk missile system used to shoot down flight MH17 came from the Russian army’s 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile brigade, based in the Russian city of Kursk.
The team said Thursday it is looking for witnesses “who can share information about those who controlled the DPR leadership in Donetsk and commanded the deployment of the Buk” missile system.
“The indications for close ties between leaders of the DPR and Russian government officials raise questions about their possible involvement in the deployment” of the missile, the investigators said.