Lawyers who have served in both Republican and Democratic administrations objected to the move, including several who emphasized that even though Mr. Trump, as president, is exempt from a federal conflict of interest statute, his role in the matter was improper.
“It stinks,” said Charles Fried, a Harvard law professor who served as solicitor general under President Ronald Reagan. “It is so completely blatant.”
Some Republicans in Congress also questioned Mr. Trump’s move.
“In the law, there’s a canon that says, avoid the appearance of impropriety,” Representative Francis Rooney, Republican of Florida, told reporters on Friday, adding, “I think that would be better if he would not use his hotel for this kind of stuff.”
Former White House officials expressed shock that Mr. Trump would consider hosting an event that would enrich his family, and suggested that the choice would also pose immediate ethical concerns for the world leaders invited to the summit.
“The appearance of impropriety and self-enrichment will likely be troubling to at least some G7 leaders,” said Daniel M. Price, who helped organize the summits for President George W. Bush. “If I were still the U.S. sherpa and the president was invited to attend a summit at a business resort owned by the foreign leader host, my first question would be to White House counsel about whether ethics rules would permit the president to attend.”
The president’s reversal adds another twist to a process that appeared to flout longstanding State Department guidelines for vetting diplomatic event venues — Mr. Mulvaney said the idea for Doral was thought up in the White House dining room. Still, Mr. Mulvaney said aides created a short list of about a dozen sites, and narrowed it down to three possibilities in Hawaii and Utah.
Local officials in those states said they were never notified that the White House was scouting for venues for a major event. A spokeswoman for Gary Herbert, the Republican governor of Utah, said that officials did not know that the White House had considered two locations in the state for the Group of 7. And a spokeswoman for David Ige, the Democratic governor of Hawaii, said they determined that the White House had been looking for locations only after the fact.