UPDATE (10:50 p.m. EDT Tuesday): In the face of intense public scrutiny, Vice President Mike Pence has defended his decision to stay at an Irish golf resort owned by President Donald Trump on the dime of U.S. taxpayers.
Pence, who’d been criticized for choosing to stay at the Trump resort in Doonbeg on Monday despite its distance from his official meetings in the Irish capital of Dublin, said in a statement that he’d chosen to stay at the luxury property because it’s located near his “ancestral hometown.”
“The Vice President’s family previously stayed at the same resort in 2013 prior to the Trump organization’s acquisition of the property and the office was aware of its proximity to the ancestral home where his great grandmother lived before emigrating to the United States,” Pence’s office said in a statement to The New York Times.
Staying in Doonbeg allowed for the accommodation of “official business and public events on both coasts,” the statement added, noting that Pence had chosen to stay at the resort on his own volition — and not at Trump’s prompting.
The vice president said earlier on Tuesday that it was “logical” for him to stay at the Doonbeg resort, adding that it was “deeply humbling for me to be able to come back to Ireland and have the opportunity to go to the very home town of my mother’s grandmother.”
Not to worry, because he’ll be able to fly back and forth on the taxpayer’s tab.
Pence’s stay made for a bizarre two-fer Trump golf course phenomenon on Monday. While the president was playing at his Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Virginia (and monitoring the progress of Hurricane Dorian, White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham claimed), Pence was at Doonbeg in County Clare.
Pence had meetings scheduled Tuesday with Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar and Irish President Michael Higgins in Dublin.
Pence, who is traveling with his wife, sister and mother, has ties to Ireland. His grandfather Richard Michael Cawley emigrated from County Sligo to Chicago in the 1920s. Cawley’s Irish-American wife hailed from Doonbeg, according to the Irish Times.
Though Doonbeg appears to be an inefficient and expensive location for Pence’s work during his visit, the golf club stay serves the president well. Not only is federal money spent at Doonbeg, it gives the business a high-profile advertorial platform to attract customers.
Critics on Twitter were teed off about the situation.
Trump’s own detour to Doonbeg after visiting London in June ran a hefty $3.6 million in extra costs. The business posted promotional shots on its website of Trump teeing off, but yanked them after HuffPost made queries.
After his trip to Doonbeg the president retweeted a Trump Organization advertisement for his three golf resorts in Ireland and Scotland on the Twitter site he uses for presidential messages to 64 million followers.