Two days before Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arrives, the Trump administration is still working to figure out who will pay for his visit to the Trump-owned Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida.
Officials at the State Department and inside the Japanese government are trying to work something out that will meet Japanese requirements, according to a senior administration official with knowledge of the situation but not authorized to speak publicly on the matter. What precisely those requirements are was uncertain, however.
“They should have figured it out before the visit,” said Richard Painter, who served as a White House ethics lawyer under President George W. Bush. “They ought to give a clear answer. It’s a real problem.”
It’s unclear whether Abe, Trump or U.S. taxpayers will pay. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Tuesday that he didn’t know “the exact financing.”
Before he was sworn in as president, Trump said he would donate profits from foreign government spending at his hotels to the U.S. Treasury.
The change was made following concerns about the Emoluments Clause in the U.S. Constitution, which says “officials may not accept gifts, titles of nobility or emoluments from foreign governments with respect to their office, and that no benefit should be derived by holding in office.”
It’s unclear if they took other country’s standards into consideration in developing the new policy. Japanese officials did not respond to requests for comment, but gifts valued at more than $45 generally must be reported, according to a United Nations report on corruption.
Abe will visit Trump at the White House on Friday. The two will then travel to Mar-a-Lago for the weekend, where Trump said they planned to play a round of golf. Trump is expected to return to Washington Sunday.
The initiation fee to join Mar-a-Lago was recently raised to $200,000, annual dues are $14,000 and a night’s stay can cost $2,000.. Mar-a-Lago does not have a golf course, but the Trump International Golf Club-West Palm Beach is 10 minutes away, according to the Mar-a-Lago website.
Trump welcomed his first foreign leader, British Prime Minister Theresa May, to the White House last month, but she did not travel to Mar-a-Lago.
Many presidents have chosen to entertain world leaders at Camp David, a sprawling, secluded residence in wooded hills about 60 miles northwest of Washington.
Trump and Abe are expected to speak about security and currency as well as a bilateral trade deal following Trump’s decision to pull out of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement. The two met in New York after Trump was elected.