Mike Pence staying at Trump golf resort in Ireland despite all meetings happening on other side of country

US vice-president accused of corruption after decision to enrich boss' private business 

Tom Embury-Dennis
Tuesday 03 September 2019 16:34 BST
Donald Trump's golf habits cost taxpayers a pretty penny research shows

Mike Pence has chosen to stay at Donald Trump’s golf resort during a visit to Ireland, despite his official duties all taking place on the other side of the country in Dublin.

Critics accused the US vice president of corruption by electing to use public funds to enrich his boss’ private business, rather than use one of the hundreds of hotels in the Irish capital.

Mr Pence, who landed in Ireland on Monday following a trip to Poland, stayed the night at Trump International Golf Club in Doonbeg on the west coast of the country. He was joined by his wife, Karen, along with his sister and mother.

According to his public daily schedule, Mr Pence will fly on Air Force Two the 117 miles from Shannon airport to Dublin, where he will hold a series of meetings, before flying back and staying a second night at Mr Trump’s resort.

Though it is unclear how much the Trump Organization stands to make from Mr Pence’s stay at Doonbeg, vice-presidential trips abroad involve dozens of officials, and starting prices for suites at the resort begin at €301 (£275) per night.

Ted Lieu, a Democratic congressman for California, tweeted: “You took an oath to the Constitution, not to [Donald Trump]. Funneling taxpayer money to [the president] by staying at this Trump resort is sooooooo corrupt.”

Jesse Lee, a former White House special assistant to president Barack Obama, said: “Those who have driven around Ireland will know that it takes a fair amount of effort to stay in a hotel more than 3 hours away from any given destination.

“Pence is literally staying at Trump’s golf club on the other side of the country from his government business.”

On Tuesday, Mr Pence's chief-of-staff said the idea for the vice-president to stay at the resort was Mr Trump's.

"I don't think it was a request, like a command ... I think that it was a suggestion," Marc Short told reporters.

"It's like 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 before paraphrasing Mr Trump. "It's like, 'Well, you should stay at my place'."

He added Mr Trump was not allowing Mr Pence and his delegation stay there for free, but that he did not have a cost estimate for the trip yet, according to NBC News.

Donald Trump congratulates Poland on WWII

"When you're in Doonbeg tonight and you're with the vice-president on some of the official visits he's also doing, you'll also see there are not a lot of options in that community," he said.

Mr Pence’s arrival at Doonbeg coincided with Mr Trump travelling to another of his resorts in Virginia - his 227th day at a golf club owned by him since he became president in 2017.

Late on Monday evening, the Trump administration caused further anger when it praised Mr Pence for agreeing to a meeting with the Irish Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, who is gay. Mr Pence has repeatedly supported policies hostile to the LGBT+ community.

“For all of you who still think our [vice-president] is anti-gay, I point you to his and the Second Lady’s schedule tomorrow where they will join Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and his partner Dr Matthew Barrett for lunch in Ireland,” White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere tweeted.

Mr Pence is set to discuss Brexit with both Mr Varadkar and British prime minister Boris Johnson, who the vice-president will meet on Thursday when he flies to London.

"We will continue to work closely with our partners in Ireland and the United Kingdom to support a Brexit plan that encourages stability and also one that keeps the strong foundation forged by the Good Friday Agreement," Mr Pence told reporters after arriving in Ireland.

"We understand these are complex issues."

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