Sunday 22 September 2019

'I had nothing to do with Pence staying at Doonbeg,' insists Trump

Visit: US Vice President Mike Pence and his sister Anne and wife Karen are greeted by locals in Doonbeg, Co Clare, earlier this month. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Visit: US Vice President Mike Pence and his sister Anne and wife Karen are greeted by locals in Doonbeg, Co Clare, earlier this month. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Lisa Lambert

US president Donald Trump has dismissed Democrats' allegations of impropriety over Vice President Mike Pence's stay at his Doonbeg resort and over a Scottish airport near a Trump-owned golf course.

Democrats in the US House of Representatives are looking into Mr Pence's stay at the Trump International Golf Club in Doonbeg, Co Clare, which is 300km away from Dublin, where his meetings were held.

Elijah Cummings, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, wants documents on the visit sent to the committee by September 19.

Mr Trump yesterday took to Twitter to issue his latest denial. He wrote: "I had nothing to do with the decision of our great [vice-president] Mike Pence to stay overnight at one of the Trump-owned resorts in Doonbeg, Ireland.

"Mike's family has lived in Doonbeg for many years, and he thought that during his very busy European visit, he would stop and see his family!"

Last week, Mr Pence's chief of staff was asked if Mr Trump had suggested the location.

He told reporters: "I think that it was a suggestion."

"It's like when we went through the trip it's like, 'Well, he's going to Doonbeg because that is where his family is from, it's like 'oh, you should stay at my place'.

"It wasn't like a 'you must'. It wasn't like a 'you have to'."

Later, Mr Pence's team put out a statement to say: "At no time did the president direct our office to stay at his Doonbeg resort and any reporting to the contrary is false."

It also noted that the Pence family stayed at the property during a visit to Ireland in 2013, before Mr Trump owned it.

Meanwhile, the House Judiciary Committee is looking into the stay as part of an investigation of Mr Trump's decision to host next year's Group of Seven economic summit at his Florida resort.

Mr Cummings is also concerned about Prestwick Airport, looking into purchase orders for fuel totalling $11m (€9.9m) and reports that the airport offered cut-rate rooms for select passengers and crew, as well as free rounds of golf at Turnberry to visiting US military and civilian air crews.

Mr Trump also tweeted yesterday in response: "I know nothing about an Air Force plane landing at an airport (which I do not own and have nothing to do with) near Turnberry Resort (which I do own) in Scotland, and filling up with fuel, with the crew staying overnight at Turnberry (they have good taste!). NOTHING TO DO WITH ME."

The US constitution bars government officials, including the president, from receiving financial benefits known as emoluments from foreign or domestic governments, without Congress approval.

Mr Trump has remained in control of his hotels, golf courses and other businesses, though he said he handed over day-to-day operations to his sons before taking office in January 2017.

Irish Independent

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