Mike Pence has defended his two-night stay at Donald Trump‘s golf resort while on an official visit to Ireland amid questions over his use of public money to benefit the president.” data-reactid=”17″>Vice president Mike Pence has defended his two-night stay at Donald Trump‘s golf resort while on an official visit to Ireland amid questions over his use of public money to benefit the president.
The vice president spent Monday and Tuesday night at the Trump resort in Doonbeg, a small town on Ireland’s west coast on the other side of the country from his state business in the capital.
Mr Pence defended the decision – which also required him to fly daily to Dublin and back on Air Force Two – by saying he wanted to have dinner at Morrissey’s, a pub owned by a distant cousin.
“I understand political attacks by Democrats, but if you have a chance to get to Doonbeg, you’ll find it’s a fairly small place,” Mr Pence told reporters at the ambassador’s residence on Tuesday.
Mr Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short, said on Air Force Two that the president had just “made a suggestion” he stay at the Trump resort in Doonbeg and that there had been no formal directive.
“When we went through the trip, it’s like, ‘Well, he’s going to Doonbeg because that’s where the Pence family is from,’ ” Mr Short said. “It’s like, ‘Well, you should stay at my place.’”
The vice president was in Ireland at the start of the week as part of a trip through Europe, and flew across the country to meet with Irish president Leo Varadkar to discuss trade and Brexit.
Mr Trump has previously come under fire for blurring the lines between his businesses and his presidency. Notably, he decided to retain ownership of his company after the 2016 election.
The president has often frequented his own properties, including the Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm beach, Florida, and has now spent 295 days at a Trump property since becoming president.
Such excursions have been criticised for being ethically problematic because the large travelling party generates additional revenue for the president, but at the expense of US taxpayers.
The vice president, who was joined on the Ireland trip by his wife, mother and sister, has deep ties directly to Doonbeg, where a distant relation owns a pub.
On Tuesday night, Mr Pence visited Morrissey’s Pub and was greeted by his distant relation as he pointed out the house that used to belong to his great-grandmother.
Mr Short noted that for this particular trip, Mr Pence was personally paying for the travel of his mother and sister. There was no mention of costs incurred at the Trump resort by his entourage.
The president has himself visited the Trump resort earlier this year during a trip to commemorate the anniversary of the D-Day landings, though he met Mr Varadkar at the airport and not in Dublin.
But that means the most senior officials of the Trump administration have visited a once-obscure golf resort in County Clare, Ireland, that business filings show has not turned a profit in years.
The itinerary has been defended by aides, who said it was difficult to find a secure location on short notice after he moved his trip up so he could make a trip to Poland in Mr Trump’s stead.
Mr Trump decided to skip a ceremony in Poland marking the 80th anniversary of the start of World War II in order to monitor Hurricane Dorian, and sent Mr Pence to attend on his behalf.