President Donald Trump wrapped up a visit to his Ireland golf resort Friday, in the process adding at least another $3.6 million to a taxpayer-funded golf tab that totals nearly $106 million in just 2 1/2 years.
Trump played golf Friday morning and possibly also played Wednesday and Thursday evenings. The White House press corps was not allowed on the property and was instead kept at a hotel in Limerick, more than an hour away from Trump’s resort in Doonbeg.
Trump also discussed his resort with Ireland’s minister for trade, employment and business upon his arrival at Shannon Airport, where he met Ireland’s prime minister. That 65-minute meeting was conducted at an airport lounge near the food court and the duty-free shopping because Trump did not want to travel to the nation’s capital, Dublin. It was the entirety of Trump’s official business in Ireland.
That meeting, in fact, was added well after the White House began planning for the visit to Doonbeg. The White House and the Irish prime minister’s office announced the meeting on May 21, but a team of White House, Secret Service and State Department officials visited Shannon and Doonbeg in late April.
The State Department began signing contracts for the trip on May 22. Among them: $1,023,940 to rent cars and limos; $10,866 to install temporary phone lines and $16,325 to rent golf carts for the Secret Service agents protecting Trump on the golf course.
In all, the department gave out $1.5 million in contracts for the Ireland detour, which was melded into Trump’s state visit to England and the ceremony in Normandy to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Allied invasion of occupied France in World War II.
Trump claimed as he left the White House on Sunday: “Well, we’re going to be staying at Doonbeg, in Ireland because it’s convenient and it’s a great place. But it’s convenient.”
In fact, though, Trump was much closer to Paris and Normandy when he was staying in London for the first two nights of his trip. Staying in Doonbeg Wednesday night required a flight from England about 370 miles west to the Atlantic coast of Ireland. The Normandy visit on Thursday meant retracing most of those miles, flying 440 miles east, and then another 440 miles west to return to Ireland that afternoon.
With the additional travel costs of flying the planes that were used as Air Force One; the need to transport U.S. Marine Corps helicopters and presidential limousines to Ireland in addition to England and France; and the State Department expenses, the Ireland excursion cost taxpayers at least $3.6 million more than if Trump had stayed in London on Wednesday night and returned to Washington from France on Thursday, according to a HuffPost analysis.
That would bring the total for Trump’s golf vacations during his 2 1/2 years in office to $105.8 million.
Within minutes of Trump’s departure from the resort, meanwhile, Trump International Golf Links, Doonbeg, began posting video of his arrival aboard Marine One and of him teeing off the first green in its promotional material ― but then removed them after HuffPost began making inquiries. Both were posted to YouTube, however, by the Democratic-aligned opposition research group American Bridge.
In one video showing the Atlantic Ocean in the background, Trump can be seen hitting a drive and is heard shouting, as his partners compliment him: “No mulligans! No mulligans.”
The White House declined to comment for this story.
The group that has been suing Trump for accepting payments from foreign governments ― a violation of the Constitution’s “emoluments clause” ― said Trump’s behavior in Ireland in not surprising.
“At this point, it appears that Donald Trump views his presidency as just another way to support his business,” said Jordan Libowitz of the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. “On an international trip at taxpayer expense, he stopped by to film a commercial for his Irish golf course, which is advertising the stop explicitly as one by the president of the United States. His own lawyers, in their ‘Conflict of Interest’ white paper, said this would not happen. But at this point, it’s clear all that matters to President Trump is what makes him money.”
Trump has now spent 181 days of his first 2 1/2 years in office on a golf course, all but two of which have been on his own properties. (He has played twice in Japan at the invitation of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.) Trump has been at his Florida courses near his Palm Beach resort, Mar-a-Lago, on 61 days; at his Bedminster, New Jersey, resort 58 days; his course in Los Angeles one day; and on his course in Turnberry, Scotland, for two days last summer.
That count is more than twice the number of days former President Barack Obama had golfed at the same point in his presidency. And because Trump insists on playing on courses he owns, his dollar total is more than three times the $30 million Obama had spent by this point.
Each trip to Mar-a-Lago costs taxpayers $3.4 million and each Bedminster trip at least $1.2 million. Obama, except for two vacations per year, played almost all of his golf at military bases within a short drive of the White House. Those trips, like Trump’s to his course in Northern Virginia, cost taxpayers very little beyond gas for the motorcade vehicles and some overtime expenses.
Trump’s golfing trips outside the United States cost taxpayers a great deal more than his domestic golf vacations because of the enormous footprint generated by presidential foreign travel, with more agencies becoming involved. Dozens of White House staff members may travel with Trump during a weekend to Mar-a-Lago or Bedminster, but that number swells to several hundred on an overseas trip. The White House avoids lengthy motorcades on foreign soil, so Marine helicopters and V-22 tilt-rotor aircraft must be prepositioned using C-17 transports that cost $200,000 an hour to fly, according to a recent Government Accountability Office report. A backup Air Force One is sent along as the support plane.