- The Washington Times
Friday, September 6, 2019

Powerful House Democrats said Friday they need to know how much Vice President Mike Pence’s stay at President Trump’s Irish resort cost taxpayers, signaling they will dig deep into Mr. Trump’s decision to flaunt his personal businesses while serving in the White House.

House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings sent letters to the White House, the vice president, Secret Service and the Trump Organization seeking details on Mr. Pence’s two-night stay at the Doonbeg resort, which was 180 miles away from scheduled meetings in Dublin.

Mr. Trump insists he didn’t direct Mr. Pence and his team to stay there, though Democrats say the choice is fishy.

“The committee does not believe that U.S. taxpayer funds should be used to personally enrich President Trump, his family and his companies,” said Mr. Cummings, Maryland Democrat.

His letter to White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said the cost is likely hefty, citing estimates that Mr. Trump’s own Doonbeg stay in June cost $3.6 million.

Also Friday, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler sought information on Mr. Trump’s pitch to hold next year’s Group of Seven meetings at his Doral resort in Miami.

In a letter to presidential counsel and the Secret Service, he said any solicitation to foreign governments could run afoul of constitutional clauses designed to bar undue influence through gifts.

“Potential violations of the foreign and domestic emoluments clauses of the Constitution are of significant interest and grave concern to the committee as it considers whether to recommend articles of impeachment,” Mr. Nadler said in his letter, underlining the broader stakes.

The chairman characterized Mr. Trump’s promotion of Doral as a watershed moment, saying the president appeared to be requiring foreign governments to spend money at his resort to engage in international negotiations.

Mr. Trump called his Miami resort a “natural” during the recent G-7 summit in France, citing its private bungalows, acreage and location near the airport.

House Democrats said the comments kicked off a “troubling pattern” that continued in Ireland, where Mr. Pence portrayed his stay at Mr. Trump’s resort in Doonbeg as a “logical” place for him to trace his family roots and accommodate his large entourage.

His team said Mr. Trump’s decision to send Mr. Pence to Poland for World War II ceremonies forced them to spend two nights in Doonbeg, rather than just one. The switch forced Mr. Pence into an awkward commute by plane from the western coast of Ireland to Dublin on the east coast.

Mr. Pence’s aides initially said Mr. Trump suggested, though never commanded, the vice president to stay at his place.

Later, however, the Pence team released a statement taking full responsibility for the choice.

Either way, Democrats want to know how much it cost taxpayers.

“The White House has not made public how much [the] vice president’s trip cost the American taxpayer — or benefited the Trump Organization — but based on previous investigations by the Government Accountability Office, the bill could be significant,” Mr. Cummings told Mr. Mulvaney.

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