MSNBC host Ari Melber on Wednesday noted that Vice President Mike Pence has changed his story at least three times about why he stayed at Trump International Golf Links & Hotel in Doonbeg on Ireland’s west coast despite his meetings being in Dublin, which is on Ireland’s east side and 182 miles away.
“Mike Pence is revising his story a third time ongoing 180 miles out of his way all to get government money, your tax dollars into Donald Trump’s company in Ireland,” Melber said about Pence’s shifting story. “This is now one day after Pence’s team said that Trump suggested he stay there so we know about that.”
The vice president’s chief of staff said Trump had suggested Pence stay at the Doonbeg golf club, though Pence’s office later that day said the decision was entirely the vice president’s.
“At no time did Trump direct our office to stay at his Doonbeg resort,” Pence’s team later claimed, adding that the resort was chosen because of its accommodations in close proximity to Pence’s ancestral hometown.
“I heard he was going there, but it wasn’t my idea for Mike to go there,” Trump told reporters on Wednesday. “Mike went there because his family’s there. That’s my understanding of it.”
“Pence and his team plunked down taxpayer money to go stay at Trump’s resort which you see here, was 180 miles away from the government meetings he had in Dublin,” Melber said.
“It may not have been a direct order. Nobody said it was. Who cares? That’s not the point,” Melber continued. “The point is how these things work. How your money is being misspent and going into Trump’s pocket and how persuasion in this Trump cabinet and Trump Administration works.”
Critics questioned the logistics of utilizing the Trump property given it required a roughly 90-minute commute via plane to Dublin for meetings with Ireland’s president and prime minister when Pence could have stayed in the Irish capital.
“This may not technically be illegal, but it’s an atrocious abuse of power to line the president’s pockets, and it’s a continuation of two years of profiteering by President Trump,” said Walter Shaub, a former director of the Office of Government Ethics who resigned in July 2017.
“The White House wants to quibble over whether the president suggested it or the vice president thought it up … but what’s clear is that the president has set a tone all along that the use of his properties is not only allowed but encouraged,” Shaub added.