WASHINGTON — Vice President Mike Pence departed his hotel overlooking stunning vistas of the Atlantic Ocean just before 8:30 a.m. Tuesday for his official visit with Michael D. Higgins, the president of Ireland. It would be quite some time before he got there.
There was the hourlong motorcade to the airport in Shannon, where he arrived at 9:30 a.m. Then the flight to Dublin, where Air Force Two landed at 10:29 a.m., and finally a short drive to Aras an Uachtarain, the presidential residence, and his meet-and-greet with Mr. Higgins, which started at 11:11 a.m.
The lengthy commute was necessary because of Mr. Pence's choice of hotel: Rather than spending Monday night in Dublin, the vice president stayed 181 miles away by car on the other side of Ireland — at the Trump International Golf Links & Hotel in Doonbeg. The person who suggested he stay there was the hotel's owner himself, President Trump.
"I don't think it was a request, like a command," Marc Short, Mr. Pence's chief of staff, told reporters traveling with the vice president. "I think that it was a suggestion."And so Mr. Pence became part of a well-established trend among prominent Republicans, who since Mr. Trump rose to lead his party have become regular customers at his establishments. In total, nearly $20 million has been spent at the Trump family hotels since 2015 by various mostly Republican political groups, including Mr. Trump's own political committees, according to a tally by the Center for Responsive Politics.
Mr. Pence's stay at the Trump hotel — which bills itself as "a new generation of style and service" — may have been the highest-profile example of a member of Mr. Trump's inner circle patronizing one of the president's businesses. But it was far from the first time that a top American official in Mr. Trump's administration had picked one of the president's hotels when needing a place to stay or to be seen.
Over all, at least 24 of the 32 individuals who have served in Mr. Trump's cabinet and 26 of the 53 Republicans in the Senate have been spotted at or spent money at Trump International Hotel in Washington, according to a tally maintained by Zach Everson, who tracks visits to the hotel by foreign dignitaries, members of Congress and other Republicans.
"In a way it is business as normal," said Mr. Everson, whose newsletter, called 1100 Pennsylvania, examines patronage by the politically connected at the hotel in Washington. "This is the way Republicans are supporting the president, by supporting his businesses."Mr. Pence has family roots in Doonbeg, and the president suggested his hotel when he heard that the vice president was traveling there. "It's like when we went through the trip, it's like, 'Well, he's going to Doonbeg because that's where the Pence family is from,'" Mr. Short said. "It's like, 'Well, you should stay at my place.'"
Mr. Short said the vice president was personally covering the expenses of his wife, his mother and his sister, who are traveling with him. Still, the coterie of Secret Service personnel and other members of Mr. Pence's traveling party staying there will mean a substantial bill paid by taxpayers — with some of that going to Mr. Trump's hotel.
Mr. Pence, whose office said the hotel stay "was solely a decision by the Office of the Vice President," played down any criticisms when reporters asked about it between meetings during his trip.
"I understand political attacks by Democrats, but 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 said.Mr. Pence stayed at the same resort in 2013 before the Trump Organization had acquired the property, the office said in a statement, and the vice president's initial travel schedule included a night in Doonbeg after official meetings in Dublin. "At no time did the president direct our office to stay at his Doonbeg resort," according to the statement, which was released after news reports of the president's involvement.
But for Mr. Pence, the visit to Doonbeg was only the most recent instance in which he or his relatives have patronized Mr. Trump's businesses.
His Great America Committee has spent more than $225,000 at Trump International Hotel in Washington since 2017, one of the largest vendor expenditures for the political committee. Great America Committee has also recently spent money at the Trump National Golf Club in Virginia, Federal Election Commission records show.Greg Pence, the vice president's brother and an Indiana congressman, is another big spender at Trump International, paying more than $45,000 worth of bills at the hotel since 2017.
As of last weekend, Mr. Trump himself had visited one of his family-owned properties on at least 293 days, or just over 30 percent of the days he has been in office. His most frequent destinations are his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida and Trump golf courses in New Jersey and Virginia. And he has spent three days at Doonbeg since he took office.
"I have a very warm spot for Doonbeg, I will tell you that," Mr. Trump said in March during an Oval Office visit by Prime Minister Leo Varadkar of Ireland. "And it's just a great place. Really, a great place."
The president spoke with equal enthusiasm about another of his hotels, Trump National Doral, near Miami, at the recent Group of 7 summit in France. Mr. Trump suggested that he might host next year's meeting at the hotel."I think having it in Miami is fantastic," Mr. Trump said last week. "Really fantastic. Having it at that particular place, because of the way it's set up, each country can have their own villa, or their own bungalow. And the bungalows, when I say, they have a lot of units in them. So I think it just works out well."
The House Judiciary Committee has already announced that it intends to investigate how Mr. Trump appears to be driving business to his family operations. "The president's personal financial interests are clearly shaping decisions about official U.S. government activities," Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York and the panel's chairman, said after Mr. Trump disclosed that he hoped to host the G7 event at Trump Doral.
Legal scholars have also questioned whether Mr. Trump's actions — urging the vice president to stay at Doonbeg — might violate the so-called emoluments clauses of the Constitution. Presidents are prohibited from accepting any payment from the federal or state government, beyond their federal salary. But most of the focus related to that provision has to do with foreign governments making payments to Mr. Trump, by staying at a hotel.
Still, the patronage by the president and Republican Party leaders of Trump-owned properties comes as the Trump hotels have struggled on their own, annual financial disclosure reports by Mr. Trump suggest. Overall revenues at Trump-branded hotels in Chicago, Florida and Hawaii have lagged behind the hotel markets in those areas, in part hotel industry consultants said, because of damage to the brand Mr. Trump has caused during his tenure in the White House.The Doonbeg hotel and golf course generated $14.5 million in revenue for the Trump Organization last year, according to Mr. Trump's annual financial disclosure, up 2 percent from 2017.
Mr. Pence's visit to Ireland was originally scheduled to be the last leg of a European trip. But the schedule was rejiggered after Mr. Trump directed Mr. Pence to stand in for him as an emissary on an official trip to Poland after the president canceled, citing the need to monitor Hurricane Dorian. On Thursday, Mr. Pence is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Boris Johnson in London.
On Tuesday, Mr. Pence boarded Air Force Two just before 5 p.m. for the two-and-a-half-hour trip back to Doonbeg, where he was scheduled to have dinner with a distant cousin at Morrissey's Pub, down the road from Mr. Trump's golf club.
By Maggie Haberman and Eric Lipton, New York Times, Sept. 3, 2019
September 4, 2019
Voices4America Post Script. #TrumpGrifters before our eyes. How long will we let this continue! #25thAmendmentNow #BlueWave2020Later
Hey, did I mention the homophobic and anti-LGBTQ had to suck it in (no pun intended) and meet with with the prime minister of Ireland and his male partner!
No, that doesn't show, as the White House claims, Pence is not anti-gay. He is just a hypocrite.
This is from the Washington Post today:
We can't believe we have to say this but simply meeting with a gay person doesn't erase Pence's long history of attacking LGBTQ people through policy, legislation, and rhetoric," the LGBT advocacy organization GLAAD tweeted. "Nice try though."
The Human Rights Campaign said in a statement, "it's important to remember this lunch has nothing to do with LGBTS rights it's literally just with an LGBTQ person."
As governor of Indiana, Pence signed a law that would allow businesses and individuals to discriminate against people based on their sexuality — he later signed an amended version after a nationwide outcry. Pence has called same-sex marriage a sign of "societal collapse" and opposed expanding hate crimes to include sexual orientation and gender identity.
Chasten Buttigieg, the husband of South Bend, Ind., mayor and Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, responded to Deere's assertion about Pence's lunch.
"I've sat at tables with people who would gladly deny me the right to marry, who openly support conversion therapy, and who adamantly believe being gay is a choice. Doesn't mean they're any less homophobic because we shared a meal," said Buttigieg, who would be the nation's first "first man" if his husband won the White House.
Earlier this year, Pete Buttigieg publicly sparred with Pence, saying in an April speech that his marriage moved him closer to God.
"That's the thing I wish the Mike Pences of the world would understand: That if you have a problem with who I am, your quarrel is not with me," Buttigieg said. "Your quarrel, sir, is with my creator."
CNN’s article on this is called - In the Mafia, there is a word for what Pence and Barr did. https://amp.cnn.com/cnn/2019/09/04/opinions/pence-barr-money-trumps-pocket-honig/index.html