November 15, 2019

CREW received records from the United States Secret Service that, along with emails from Doral city officials, undermine President Trump’s dubious claim that members of the Secret Service wanted the 2020 G-7 Summit to be hosted at Trump’s Doral resort in Miami. The reality appears to be quite different, with the Secret Service instead expressing reluctance, saying “the property does present[] some challenges,” followed by a redaction that implies security concerns. The records also seem to show that Doral was added for consideration at the last minute, saying “[b]y departure, they had already cut two (California and North Carolina) and added Miami on the back end.” Taken together, the records that CREW obtained call into question nearly every aspect of Trump’s justification of his choice. 

Trump leaned heavily on a claim that after an exhaustive search, members of the government preferred Doral, saying “When my people came back…They went to places all over the country. And they came back and they said, ‘This [Doral] is where we would like to be.’ Now we had military people doing it. We had Secret Service people doing it.”

On August 27 and 28, CREW requested records about that claim from the city of Doral, the Secret Service, and the State Department on the prospect of hosting the G-7 at Doral. After receiving nothing from State, or the Secret Service, CREW sued for those records on October 18. 

The email that was ultimately provided suggests a disjointed process, where Doral was added on as an afterthought. Signed by a member of Dignitary Protective Division’s Special Events team, the email suggests the Secret Service wasn’t able to make it down to Doral until a month after the original itinerary concluded. “Yesterday was the first time we put eyes on this property,” the email, dated July 12, says, apparently referring to Doral. 

On August 26, the New York Times reported that the Secret Service had had communications with the Doral Police Department about hosting the event at Trump’s resort, according to the city’s mayor. In order to learn what vetting process took place between the federal and local levels, CREW also requested records from the Doral police department and mayor’s office.

CREW’s search of thousands of responsive emails from Doral government officials for the terms “Secret Service,” “dhs.gov,” and other relevant terms, returned no results. While at this time, we can’t confirm that there was zero communication between the city of Doral and the Secret Service, it certainly calls into question the President’s claim of the extensive vetting of his club before he chose it to host the G-7.

All is not lost for Trump’s struggling Doral resort, however. Just yesterday, the Republican National Committee announced it would be holding its winter meetings there—its second major meeting at the property during the Trump presidency—which will likely generate hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue for the business the president still owns and profits from. Given how often Republican events and fundraisers have been held at Trump properties during the Trump administration, there isn’t much of a question how they chose the location.