President Donald Trump shakes hands with Mike Pence, U.S. Vice President, as he takes the podium before speaking during a Keep America Great rally on July 17, 2019 in Greenville, North Carolina. (Zach Gibson/Getty Images)

Congress probes Vice President Mike Pence's stay at Trump golf resort in Ireland

Pence and his team spent two nights at a Trump hotel in Doonbeg, located 180 miles away from his meetings in Dublin


Shira Tarlo
September 6, 2019 8:16PM (UTC)

Two congressional committees launched probes Friday into whether President Donald Trump improperly profited from Vice President Mike Pence's recent stay at his golf resort in Ireland during a taxpayer-funded trip.

Pence and his team spent two nights at the Trump International Golf Links and Hotel in Doonbeg, a small town on Ireland's southwest coast, even though it was located roughly 180 miles away from his meetings in the capital city of Dublin.

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"The committee does not believe that U.S. taxpayer funds should be used to personally enrich President Trump, his family and his companies," House Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings, D-Md., wrote in a letter Thursday to Pence's chief of staff, Marc Short, seeking all communications related to the trip's planning and documents with itemized costs.

Similar letters were sent to acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney; Secret Service Director James Murray; and Trump Organization Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg.

In the letter to Weisselberg, Cummings requested information on any revenue generated for the Trump Org. as a result of Pence's trip, including room rates charged to the vice president and his staff. He also requested information on any revenue generated from Trump's stay at the property in June while visiting Ireland for meetings.

Cummings said the panel was probing "potential conflicts of interest and waste of taxpayer funds," as well as "whether these expenses may have violated the domestic emoluments clause of the Constitution, which provides that the president may receive a salary during his tenure in office, but that 'he shall not receive within that period any other emolument from the United States, or any of them.'"

The investigation is the latest by House Democrats as they weigh whether to formally launch impeachment proceedings against the president.

Since he clinched the presidency in 2016, Trump has not divested from his private business interests, rejecting the advice of government ethics experts. He has also regularly visited his properties throughout his tenure in the White House. Some lawmakers and critics have thus questioned whether Trump is profiting off his presidency, in addition to possibly obstructing the former special counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

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The House Judiciary Committee also sent letters Thursday to the White House and the Secret Service requesting information related to Trump's "apparent promotion" of the Trump National Doral Miami as a possible venue for next year's Group of Seven summit.

"Potential violations of the foreign and domestic emoluments clauses of the Constitution are of grave concern to the committee as it considers whether to recommend articles of impeachment," wrote Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., the committee's chairman, and Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., a subcommittee chairman.

Trump said he did not speak to Pence about staying at his property during his visit.

"I had no involvement, other than it's a great place," Trump told reporters Wednesday. "It wasn't my idea for Mike to go there."

Short, Pence's chief of staff, told reporters one day earlier that although Trump had not directed the vice president and his team to stay at his property, he did suggest it.

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Pence himself later defended the move, telling reporters it was important for him to visit the town because of his family roots.

"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," he said at a news conference Tuesday outside the U.S. ambassador's residence in Dublin.


Shira Tarlo

Contact Shira Tarlo at shira.tarlo@salon.com. Follow @shiratarlo.

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