SHANNON, Ireland—A senior aide to Mike Pence defended the vice president’s decision to spend two nights at President Trump ’s golf resort on an official visit to Ireland, as critics question whether he is using public dollars to benefit the president.
Mr. Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short, told reporters on Air Force 2 Tuesday that there was a “suggestion” from the president that the vice president stay there, but said “it wasn’t like a ‘you must.’”
Mr. Pence was in Ireland Monday and Tuesday as part of a trip through Poland, Ireland, Iceland and Britain. He was staying both nights at the resort in Doonbeg, County Clare, and flew across the country to Dublin for the day Tuesday where he met with the president and the prime minister to discuss issues including trade, immigration and Brexit.
“It’s impossible to imagine that there was no place closer and more convenient and cheaper, in essentially all of Ireland, than this,” said Noah Bookbinder, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. “It’s clearly not convenient. It’s clearly not efficient. There’s really no explanation besides promoting the president.”
President Trump has faced criticism for blurring the lines between his business and his presidency. Breaking with precedent, Mr. Trump after his election decided to retain ownership of his company, the Trump Organization, and turned over management to his two oldest sons.
Also, I hope you don’t encounter bedbugs. Many people say there are lots of bedbugs at Trump properties. https://twitter.com/donmoyn/status/1168715954928402433 …Don Moynihan
While in Ireland, VP Pence is staying in Trump’s golf resort. Which is in Doonbeg (red pin).
His official duties are in Dublin, which is literally the opposite side of the country.
Apart from enriching the President, what is the purpose of running up taxpayer costs like this?
As president, Mr. Trump frequents his properties, including the Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla., for weekends and vacations, and has made more than 200 visits to golf clubs he owns since his election. He has also proposed holding the next Group of Seven meeting at the Trump National Doral Miami golf resort.
Mr. Pence, who was joined by his wife, mother and sister, has Irish roots and ties directly to Doonbeg, where a distant relation owns a pub. Mr. Short noted that the vice president was originally supposed to travel to Dublin from London later this week and spend one night in the Doonbeg area, but his travel had to be reorganized after he was asked to visit Poland over the weekend in lieu of Mr. Trump due to Hurricane Dorian.
Mr. Short said that when the plans for the trip changed, extending the time in Ireland to two nights, the resort had already been secured by the Secret Service. He also said that the State Department had approved the cost of the travel. Mr. Trump, who regularly stays at his properties, recently spent time in Doonbeg on a trip through Europe.
Asked if Mr. Trump was letting the vice president stay for free, Mr. Short said “no, this is following normal procedures.”
Mr. Pence is paying personally for his mother’s and sister’s travel for the entire trip, said Mr. Short.
Visiting Ireland has personal significance for the vice president, whose grandfather emigrated to the U.S. from County Sligo in 1923. The vice president has spoken emotionally about his grandfather, who became a bus driver in Chicago, and his roots.
Mr. Pence met with both Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar and President Michael D. Higgins Tuesday. In the Irish president’s residence in Dublin, Mr. Pence signed a guest book, writing “in memory of a great Irishman— Richard Michael Cawley —and on behalf of the United States of America we are delighted to be back in Ireland.”