By Steve Holland
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said on Monday that being president has cost him between $2 billion and $5 billion that he would have made if he had continued running his business instead of getting into politics, a claim unsupported by evidence.
But, he told reporters, “If I had it to do it again I would do it in an instant, because who cares, if you can afford it, what difference does it make?”
There is no evidence that Trump lost billions since he became president. His net worth of $3.1 billion was unchanged from last year, Forbes Magazine said in March.
After Trump made a similar claim in August, Forbes wrote “Trump is not losing $3 billion to $5 billion. His income isn’t anywhere near $3 billion.”
While Trump’s personal fortune held steady over the past year, he vaulted higher on the Forbes list of the world’s richest people as dozens of his fellow tycoons suffered financial setbacks while his real estate holdings held their value better.
Unlike other recent U.S. presidents, Trump has refused to release his income tax returns and has battled Congress and the courts to keep his finances under wraps.
On Monday, Trump expressed annoyance at having to reverse his decision to stage the Group of Seven summit in June at his Trump National Doral golf resort in the Miami area.
His plan to have the event at Doral drew sharp criticism from both Republicans and Democrats who said it gave the impression that he was profiting from being president.
Trump dismissed what he called “this phony emoluments clause,” a line in the U.S. Constitution that says presidents and lawmakers may not profit from their offices. Critics frequently accuse Trump of violating the emoluments clause.
The president ran a string of resorts around the world before being elected president. His children have largely taken over running the family business, but he has not given up ownership.
“Whether I lost $2 billion, $5 billion or less, it doesn’t make any difference. I don’t care,” Trump said. “I’m doing this for the country. I’m doing it for the people.”
Trump had said he would have held the G7 summit at Doral without cost to U.S. taxpayers but will now look for other sites.
“I don’t think it’ll be as exciting or as good,” he said.
The Republican president faces criticism and a number of congressional investigations over his finances and potential conflicts of interest stemming from his real estate business and an impeachment inquiry into accusations that he pursued political interests in his dealings with Ukraine.
(Reporting By Steve Holland, Doina Chaicu; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Andrea Ricci)