White House denies Trump's Pennsylvania trip is for Saccone campaign

White House denies Trump's Pennsylvania trip is for Saccone campaign
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The White House denied that President TrumpDonald John TrumpSchiff urges GOP colleagues to share private concerns about Trump publicly US-China trade talks draw criticism for lack of women in pictures Overnight Defense: Trump to leave 200 troops in Syria | Trump, Kim plan one-on-one meeting | Pentagon asks DHS to justify moving funds for border wall MORE's Thursday trip to Pennsylvania is for political purposes, hours after Trump tweeted that he's headed to the state "in order to give [his] total support" to the GOP candidate running in a special election there.

Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders issued a Thursday morning statement pushing back at questions about the nature of the trip that were sparked by the president's tweet.

"The president is enthusiastic about today's trip to Pittsburgh, Penn., to discuss the incredible successes his tax plan is already achieving for the American people," she said.

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"While the President has made clear his support for Republican candidates throughout the country, including in Pennsylvania, the purpose of today's visit is to promote the President's successful agenda especially on taxes," the statement said.

Trump is scheduled to travel to the small town of Coraopolis to give a speech touting the GOP's recently passed tax-reform bill. That trip will take Trump to one of the only districts in the country with a special election, where state Rep. Rick Saccone (R) is taking on Democrat Conor Lamb.

The White House has repeatedly sought to frame the trip as an official stop, not a campaign event. But Trump muddied the waters when he tweeted Thursday morning to endorse Saccone.

"Will be going to Pennsylvania today in order to give my total support to RICK SACCONE, running for Congress in a Special Election (March 13). Rick is a great guy. We need more Republicans to continue our already successful agenda!" he said.

While taxpayers are on the hook to pay for official White House trips, political parties have to reimburse the White House for any campaign travel. That's easy when the president takes a trip solely to campaign — the party just reimburses the cost of the trip. But when the president mixes an official event with a political event, like a fundraiser, only the portion of the trip related to politics needs to be reimbursed.

That calculation is more difficult here, since there is no explicit campaign or political event. But while Trump's tweet appears to link the trip to political motivations, Sanders's statement suggests that the White House will not seek reimbursement for the trip.