Mike Pence’s Team Changes Story on Whether Trump Directed Veep to Stay at His Ireland Hotel
Mike Pence’s team is all over the place on whether President Donald Trump asked the vice president to stay at his hotel during a diplomatic trip to Ireland.
Pence’s stay at the Trump International Golf resort in Doonbeg has drawn criticism, not only because of the ethical questions of spending taxpayer dollars at Trump’s properties, but also because Doonbeg is 181 miles away from Pence’s diplomatic business in Dublin. When asked on Tuesday about accusations of enriching the president, Pence insisted he had historical and familial ties to the area before shrugging off “political attacks by Democrats.”
“If you have a chance to get to Doonbeg you’ll find it’s a fairly small place,” Pence said. “The opportunity to stay at Trump National in Doonbeg, to accommodate the unique footprint that comes with our security detail and other personnel made it logical.”
Marc Short, Pence’s chief of staff, also spoke to reporters on Tuesday, saying Trump suggested that Pence should stay at his hotel during his trip.
“I don’t think it was a request, like a command… I think that it was a suggestion,” Short said. “It’s like, ‘Well, you should stay at my place.’ 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.”
Pence chief @marcshort45 on whether Trump asked Pence to stay at his property in Doonbeg, Ireland — via @costareports, who is doing a terrific job pooling the VP’s trip to Europe pic.twitter.com/utkQ56X6RB
— Seung Min Kim (@seungminkim) September 3, 2019
Interestingly, the explanation shifted on Wednesday when CBS News correspondent Mark Knoller reported that a spokesperson for the vice president insisted that Trump did not “direct” Pence on where to stay.
The VP’s office sought to clarify the Pence Family stay at the Trump resort in Doonbeg. A spokesperson said it was solely a decision “to find accommodations near the Vice President’s ancestral hometown,” and “at no time, did @POTUS direct the VP to say at the Trump resort. pic.twitter.com/c49vVi1QAI
— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) September 4, 2019
CNN’s Jim Acosta also has a statement from a White House official who says Short was “incorrect when he told reporters that Trump suggested that the VP stay at the Trump Golf Club in Ireland.”
WH official says Pence Chief of Staff Marc Short was incorrect when he told reporters that Trump suggested that the VP stay at the Trump Golf Club in Ireland. Overnight VP’s office clarified the decision was made by Pence’s staff. But Short first said Trump made the “suggestion.”
— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) September 4, 2019
Even if Trump’s comments were a “suggestion” and not an actual command, the situation still raises questions of whether Pence might’ve been compelled to stay at the Doonbeg resort because his boss told him to. Furthermore, Pence says he’s paying for the trip himself and it was cleared by the State Department, but is there any way that this looks good for the Trump administration when the president is being accused of violating the emoluments clause again by pitching his hotel as site of the next G7 summit?
Watch above, via C-SPAN.
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