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Fox News legal analyst: Trump's move to host G-7 at Doral resort 'direct' and 'profound' violation of Constitution

Fox News legal analyst Andrew Napolitano said Thursday that President Trump's decision to host next year's Group of Seven (G-7) summit at one of his golf properties in Florida was a "direct" and "profound" violation of the Constitution's Emoluments Clause.

"He has bought himself an enormous headache now with the choice of this. This is about as direct and profound a violation of the Emoluments Clause as one could create," Napolitano said on the Fox Business Network while citing passages from the constitutional provision.

The Emoluments Clause, which bars federal officeholders from accepting payments from foreign countries, U.S. states or the federal government, has been cited by numerous Democrats and outside watchdog groups to call into question Trump's use of his properties.

Several Democratic lawmakers have voiced outrage with the White House's decision to host an international gathering at one of Trump's properties.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a leading contender for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, said that the move represented "corruption, plain and simple" while House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) called the decision one of the clearest examples of "corruption" and violations of the Emoluments Clause thus far.

The latest criticism came after White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney announced earlier Thursday that Trump would host the annual G-7 summit at his Miami-area Trump National Doral resort, saying that "this was by far and away the best choice" for an event that convenes leaders from around the world. 

Mulvaney rejected the notion that holding the event at a Trump property represented a conflict of interest, asserting that the president would not profit from the gathering. 

"There's no issue here on him profiting from this in any way, shape or form," Mulvaney said. 

Napolitano dismissed Mulvaney's argument, saying that the Emoluments Clause does not "address profits." 

"It addresses any present, as in a gift, any emolument, as in cash, of any kind. ... The purpose of the Emoluments Clause is to keep the president of the United States of America from profiting off of foreign money," he said, adding that the framers of the Constitution were not concerned about Mulvaney's argument.

"They were concerned about a gift or cash coming directly or indirectly to the president of the United States, even if it's done at a loss," he said. "Now, the president owns shares of stock in a corporation that is one of the owners of this, along with many other investors.

"He also owns shares of stock in the corporation that manages it. So those corporations will receive a great deal of money from foreign heads of state because this is there. That's exactly what the emoluments clause was written to prohibit."

Napolitano hasn't shied from scrutinizing the president over certain legal issues. The former New Jersey Superior Court judge argued earlier this month that the president committed an impeachable offense during a July phone call in which he pressured the leader of Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden, a Democratic presidential candidate. 

"That conversation manifested both criminal and impeachable behavior," Napolitano said in a Fox News column. 

Trump has faced consistent scrutiny from Democrats and watchdog groups over the frequent use of his properties during his presidency.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) earlier this year accused Trump of violating the Emoluments Clause by "accepting and encouraging foreign governments to pay to stay at Trump resort properties without Congressional approval." 

The accusation came as Democrats expressed issues with Vice President Pence's decision in September to stay at one of Trump's properties during a visit to Ireland. 

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