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Mike Pence: Stay at Trump property in Ireland was ‘logical’

Vice President Mike Pence defended his decision to spend part of a taxpayer-funded trip at one of President Trump’s properties, saying his two-night stay in Doonbeg was a “logical” move that allowed him to highlight the U.S.-Ireland relationship through his own family.

“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,” Mr. Pence told reporters said. “We checked it with the State Department. They approved us staying there.”

Mr. Pence was responding to critics who said it was unseemly and illogical for him to stay at the Trump-owned golf property on the west coast of Ireland and commute by plane Tuesday to meetings in Dublin, about 180 miles away.

A California Democrat accused Mr. Pence of “funneling” money to Mr. Trump, while the Democratic National Committee’s “war room” said it added insult to injury after the president made weekend golf jaunts to his club in Virginia, even as Hurricane Dorian threatened the Atlantic coast.

Mr. Pence’s staff said Mr. Trump’s last-minute decision to send his No. 2 to Poland for World War II ceremonies sparked a logistical domino effect that forced them to shuttle to Dublin, instead of stopping through in one day between London and Doonbeg.

They said they didn’t have time to vet overnight properties closer to Dublin, due to the shakeup.

Mr. Trump and family members stayed at their Doonbeg residence on official business recently, so the property had been fully vetted.

“We took the Ireland component that was at the back end of the trip and moved it to the front, because it had already been secured by Secret Service. They had done all the advance work. And the facility, we knew, was safe and protected,” Mr. Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short, said.

Mr. Short said the president did not order Mr. Pence to stay at his property.

“I don’t think it was a request, like a command,” he told reporters. “I think that it was a suggestion … It’s like, ‘Well, you should stay at my place.’”

Mr. Trump isn’t waiving the bill, however. Taxpayers are still on the hook, while Mr. Pence agreed to pay for his mother and sister, who are tagging along.

The Pence family spent the night in Doonbeg late Monday and plan to visit Morrisey’s Pub — owned by a distant cousin of the vice president — back in town late Tuesday.

While in Dublin, the vice president urged Irish officials to work constructively with U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson on maintaining an open border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, as the British attempt to executive a “Brexit” from the European Union.

Mr. Pence said he was pleased to shore up economic and diplomatic ties, but to “have an opportunity to connect to the roots of my family, I think, supports the relationship between the United States and Ireland.”

“I was pleased to have the opportunity return to that family hometown and to be able to stay there and not just on a personal level, but also to do it in a way that helps me celebrate with the people of Ireland the connection that so many tens of millions of Americans feel to the Emerald Isle,” he said.

Some Democrats weren’t having any of it.

“You took an oath to the Constitution, not to @realDonaldTrump,” Rep. Ted Lieu, California Democrat, tweeted. “Funneling taxpayer money to @POTUS by staying at this Trump resort is sooooooo corrupt.”

Mr. Trump insists he is losing money as president because he can’t explore blockbuster deals, though Democrats worry he hasn’t properly insulated himself from foreign influence through spending at his resort properties or hotel in downtown D.C.

Critics find it unseemly that Mr. Trump spends so much time at his golf clubs while president, and reports that Attorney General Willam Barr scheduled a family Christmas party at Mr. Trump’s D.C. hotel have compounded the awkward optics.

House Democrats last week said they will investigate Mr. Trump’s pitch to hold next year’s G-7 summit at his Florida club, Trump National Doral Miami.

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