An undercover infest-igation
Like the urge to scratch that follows an itch, it was inevitable what would follow Donald Trump's press-conference prattle about his plan to steer next year's G-7 meeting of world leaders to his Trump National Doral Miami golf resort.
The Doral-curious decided to look under the covers, which includes checking old news clips. Sniffed out was a Miami Herald story from May 2017 about a New Jersey insurance executive who sued the resort after he woke up from a night's stay to discover bedbugs had made him their buffet, leaving “welts, lumps and marks over much of his face, neck, arms and torso.”
The suit by Eric Linder was settled out of court. The terms were not disclosed. The rediscovered bedbug story wriggled all over social media through the night. On Tuesday, the president saw blood, and so he tweeted:
"No bedbugs at Doral. The Radical Left Democrats, upon hearing that the perfectly located (for the next G-7) Doral National MIAMI was under consideration for the next G-7, spread that false and nasty rumor. Not nice!" At least he didn't make a new claim about Barack Obama bugging his place.
The Miami Herald followed up Tuesday with a fact-check by looking at the last four state inspections at the Doral, most recently from May 29. None mentioned bedbugs. A HuffPost reporter, recalling conditions at the Doral when the Republican National Committee’s met there last spring, remembered mildew odors, a "frat house" smell in a restaurant and an over-chlorinated lap pool, but no bedbugs. Conclusion: There's verisimilitude in Trump's no-vermin tweet.
What's left is a creeping sense of Trump's shamelessness in leveraging his presidency and his power as next year's G-7 host to transform the delegations from the world's leading industrial democracies (and maybe Vladimir Putin, too) into captive customers for his business.
The official White House Twitter account on Tuesday reran video from Trump's Monday news conference plugging the Doral's "magnificent" and "incredible" facilities. Though Trump hasn't called the decision final, the tweet flat-out called the Doral "the location of the next @G7 summit." For more, see Newsday's story by Laura Figueroa Hernandez.
More like a last resort?
Among Trump's touts for the Doral is location, location, location. It's close to the airport (if not the beach), just 15 or 20 minutes away. He told Angela Merkel “You’ll only have a five-minute drive,” perhaps presuming the German chancellor's motorcade could race there at Autobahn speeds.
But The New York Times noted a disadvantage: Unlike more typical, secluded summit venues, the resort would be difficult to secure: Its entrance lies near one of the busiest intersections in Doral, a city northwest of Miami.
The Miami Herald had fresh reporting Tuesday on the Doral's financial condition: It received some tax relief this summer after Miami-Dade appraisers concluded that sales continued to drop at the hotel, the trend since 2015. In a statement, the property appraiser’s office said “the 2019 valuation of Trump Doral decreased as a result of overall occupancy rates.”
Attorney General William Barr's Justice Department is already defending Trump in court against lawsuits charging he violated the anti-corruption emoluments clauses of the Constitution by hosting foreign governments at the Trump hotel in Washington.
So Barr isn't blanching over how it looks that he has personally booked the hotel's Presidential Ballroom for a “Family Holiday Party” on Dec. 8. The tab is likely to top $30,000, with Barr paying himself, a Justice official told The Washington Post.
The official said Barr chose the venue only after event spaces in other hotels, including the Willard and the Mayflower, were already taken. The official also said the purpose of Barr’s gala, which he holds annually, wasn’t to curry favor with the president.
Janison: GOP's favorite sun
It's tough to go up against an incumbent president from the same party to begin with, and even more so with a Republican Party that revolves around Trump.
Neither right-wing radio talker Joe Walsh, nor former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld, nor former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford are likely to establish a Trump-like cult of personality, writes Newsday's Dan Janison.
Top GOP swamp-dwellers in Washington clearly embrace Trump as their ticket to power as he leaves policy details to his party's Senate majority. Many of Trump's 2016 primary foes in the Senate whom he slandered in personal ways bow and scrape in Trump's presence
Trump's control of the party apparatus makes the climb even steeper. The Republican National Committee has approved a nonbinding resolution declaring its "undivided support for President Donald J. Trump and his effective presidency."
Throwing in the towels
With Tropical Storm Dorian bearing down on Puerto Rico, Trump offered not a wish for its inhabitants' safety but a lament about the cost of recovery from Hurricane Maria, which he again exaggerated.
"Wow! Yet another big storm heading to Puerto Rico. Will it ever end? Congress approved 92 Billion Dollars for Puerto Rico last year, an all time record of its kind for 'anywhere.'” As of June 30, Congress had allocated $42.7 billion, with less than $14 billion reaching the island, The Washington Post noted.
With hurricane season underway, the Department of Homeland Security plans to divert $155 million from FEMA to pay for more migrant detention beds and temporary courts at the Mexican border.
The sayings of Confuse-us
Trump's ping-ponging pronouncements and claims on the China trade war are sowing more distrust in Beijing, Bloomberg News reports.
Trump’s credibility has become a key obstacle for China to reach a lasting deal with the U.S., Chinese officials told the news service. When Trump claimed at the G-7 summit in France that officials of President Xi Jinping's government called “our top trade people” and said “let’s get back to the table,” nobody in Beijing officialdom appeared to know what he was talking about.
China’s foreign ministry on Tuesday again said it was unaware of phone calls mentioned by Trump.
What else is happening:
- Iran's President Hassan Rouhani reverted to a harder-line stance on Tuesday about meeting with Trump, saying the U.S. must lift sanctions first.
- Trump took note of reports about a Democratic contender's big campaign crowds, and concluded they were rigged. "They do stories so big on Elizabeth “Pocahontas” Warren’s crowd sizes, adding many more people than are actually there, and yet my crowds, which are far bigger, get no coverage at all. Fake News!" his tweet said.
- North Korea appears to be developing warheads to penetrate a ballistic missile shield defending Japan, the defense chief in Tokyo said on Tuesday. Trump shrugged off the latest North Korean tests during the G-7 meetings while Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe voiced more alarm and calling them a violation of UN Security Council resolutions.
- Trump threw his "full and complete support" behind far-right Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who has been feuding with the other G-7 nations over his handling of the Amazon wildfires. Those exchanges have included an insult by Bolsonaro about French President Emmanuel Macron's wife.
- Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said he still doesn't know what Trump meant Saturday when he tweeted he was looking forward to helping New York complete an extension of the Second Avenue Subway. Cuomo said he reached out to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao for insight, but has yet to hear back.
- Lesbian activists are divided over the candidacy of Pete Buttigieg, the openly gay candidate for the Democratic nomination, because some think electing a woman should take priority, Politico reported.
- Trump unleashed a tweetstorm against the three Republicans who are running against him or thinking about it, calling them the "Three Stooges."