Pence staying at Trump resort in Ireland, far from meetings

Vice President Pence is staying at a Trump resort during an official trip to Ireland even though it is roughly 180 miles away from Dublin, where he is participating in meetings.

Pence stayed at Trump International Golf Links and Hotel in Doonbeg, which is on the western coast of Ireland, on Monday and traveled by plane to Dublin for official meetings on Tuesday. He will travel back to Doonbeg following meetings in Dublin.

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Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short, told reporters Tuesday morning that Pence was originally supposed to travel from Dublin to Doonbeg, where his family is from, with no back-and-forth flight, but a late change to his schedule forced them to readjust, and a hotel in the Irish capital had not been vetted ahead of time by Secret Service.

“They had done all the advance work. And the facility, we knew, was safe and protected. And if you're going to stay in the Doonbeg area with a footprint of our size, that is the one facility that can accommodate that,” Short told reporters. “So that's the way we went about changing travel for this week.”

Short also said that President TrumpDonald John TrumpDem senator says Zelensky was 'feeling the pressure' to probe Bidens 2020 Dems slam Trump decision on West Bank settlements Trump calls latest impeachment hearings 'a great day for Republicans' MORE didn’t ask Pence to stay at his property, but suggested it.

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

“It wasn't like a, 'You must.' It wasn't like, 'You have to.' It's a facility that could accommodate the team. Keep in mind, the Secret Service has protected that facility for him, too, so they sort of know the realities, they know the logistics around that facility,” Short added.

 

The decision to stay at the Trump resort drew criticism from Democrats, with Rep. Ted LieuTed W. LieuWyden urges FCC to secure 5G networks against cyber threats Democrat hits White House spokeswoman after Trump appointee changes testimony PETA asks DOJ to stop conducting training that harms animals MORE (D-Calif.) accusing Pence in a tweet of “funneling taxpayer money” to Trump.

Pence dismissed the criticism as "political attacks" later Tuesday, telling reporters it was important for him to stay in the town where his great grandmother grew up and describing Trump's resort as uniquely situated to accommodate his security detail.

"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 and the opportunity to stay at the Trump National in Doonbeg, to accommodate the unique footprint that comes with our security detail and other personnel, made it logical," Pence said.

"We checked it with the State Department. They approved us staying there."

Late Tuesday, Pence’s office said staying at Trump National in Doonbeg was “solely a decision by the Office of the Vice President and was based on the requirement to find accommodations near the Vice President’s ancestral hometown that could satisfy official meetings on both coasts of the Emerald Isle.”

“At no time did the President direct our office to stay at his Doonbeg resort and any reporting to the contrary is false,” the statement added.

Pence’s travel is being paid for by U.S. taxpayers, as is customary for official trips, but Short later clarified that the vice president is personally paying the travel costs for his mother and sister, who are on the foreign trip with him.

Trump’s family stayed at the resort when they accompanied the president to a trip to Ireland in June.

The president late last week asked Pence to go in his place to Poland to commemorate the anniversary of World War II, saying it was important for him to stay behind and monitor Hurricane Dorian.

Updated on Sept. 4 at 6:52 a.m.