Trump made 'suggestion' Pence stay at president's Irish golf club, VP's chief of staff says

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By Allan Smith  with NBC News Politics
Image: Mike Pence
Vice President Mike Pence meets with Polish President Andrzej Duda in Warsaw on Sept. 2, 2019.   -   Copyright  Petr David Josek AP

President Donald Trump suggested that Vice President Mike Pence stay at his Irish golf club on an official trip funded by taxpayer dollars, Pence's chief of staff Marc Short told reporters Tuesday.

Pence, who is traveling with his wife, sister, and mother, is staying at the president's Doonbeg, Ireland golf club during his trip to Ireland. Rather than stay in Dublin, where he is set for a day of meetings and events with Irish officials, Pence is making the back-and-forth trip from Doonbeg to Dublin, a more than one hour flight each way. Originally, Pence was scheduled to conclude his trip in Doonbeg, where the vice president has familial ties. Now, Pence is flying back-and-forth between Dublin and Doonbeg before other European visits.

On whether the president asked Pence to stay at his Irish golf club, Short said: "I don't think it was a request, like a command ... 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's where the Pence family is from," Short said before describing the president's suggestion. "It's like, 'Well, you should stay at my place.'"

"It wasn't like a, 'You must,'" Short added. "It wasn't like, 'You have to.' It's a facility that could accommodate the team. Keep in mind, the Secret Service has protected that facility for him, too, so they sort of know the realities, they know the logistics around that facility."

Short said the president was not having Pence stay at the resort for free, insisting that the club was the only facility in Doonbeg that could accommodate the trip. He said he didn't have a cost estimate yet for the trip.

"We always explore lower cost options, which is why, you know, you have basically different footprints for this trip as well," Short said. "But when you're in Doonbeg tonight and you're with the vice president on some of the official visits he's also doing, you'll also see there are not a lot of options in that community."

Following his gaggle with reporters, Short told a New York Times reporter that Pence is "personally paying all family expenses."

The president has come under scrutiny for using taxpayer dollars at his properties both in the U.S. and overseas. Last month, Trump even suggested that next year's G-7 summit should be hosted at his Miami golf resort, insisting he would not profit off of such a venture.

Since taking office, the president has spent roughly 300 days at Trump properties, according to an NBC News count. Ahead of his inauguration, Trump chose to turn control of his company over to his two adult sons and a senior Trump Organization executive rather than divest from his large portfolio.