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.”
.@VP Pence in Ireland: "If you have a chance to get to Doonbeg you'll find it's a fairly small place, 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." pic.twitter.com/yqOSjKt9M3
— CSPAN (@cspan) September 3, 2019
Not to worry, because he’ll be able to fly back and forth on the taxpayer’s tab.
Mike Pence is staying at Trump Doonbeg while he's in Ireland. His meetings, however, are in Dublin.
For those not fluent in Irish geography, the one is not necessarily convenient to the other. pic.twitter.com/fqP6yOBOMC
— Derek Wallbank (@dwallbank) September 3, 2019
Mike Pence will not brave the traffic to cross the entirety of Ireland for said meetings, it must be pointed out... He will take a plane -- Air Force Two -- for a 1 hour 5 minute flight, Shannon to Dublin.
— Derek Wallbank (@dwallbank) September 3, 2019
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.
Both Trump and Pence are at Trump properties at this moment on Labor Day. Trump is at his golf course in VA while Pence is staying at a Trump golf course in Ireland, per pool. (CNN photo below) pic.twitter.com/QDcCAcWXmf
— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) September 2, 2019
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.
The grift continues. A bloody disgrace and paid by taxpayers.
— Kieran Hannon (@kieranhannon) September 3, 2019
The VP is staying a 3 hour drive from Irish capital, necessitating costly helicopters, all so that his visit to Ireland can put cash in the boss’s pocket. Normal federal employees go to prison for such schemes
— David Frum (@davidfrum) September 2, 2019
He's meeting the president of Ireland at his residence and lunch with the Taoiseach (both events in the phoenix Park) and also the location of the ambassadors residence, where he could have stayed. But he's staying at trump golf on the other side of the country 🙄 pic.twitter.com/Hv34I5F393
— Sam (@Sam_Fitzgerald7) September 3, 2019
Trump banging the Treasury twice in one weekend
— Safiyah Noor (@SafiyahNoor1) September 2, 2019
A coordinated effort in the waning days of the Trump administration to steal a few thousand more tax dollars. There is no limit to his greed. pic.twitter.com/gFYpcBoBnG
— MOTR Politics (@MOTRPolitics1) September 2, 2019
Trumps kleptocracy 😡
— Tracey P (@traceyteepee5) September 2, 2019
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.
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This article originally appeared on HuffPost.