Democrats Investigate Pence Trip to Trump Golf Resort in Ireland, Trump's Pitch to Host G7 at His Miami Resort

Two Democratic-led House committees are investigating Vice President Mike Pence's recent trip to Ireland, where he lodged at a Trump golf resort, and President Donald Trump's desire to host next year's G7 Summit at his exclusive Doral golf resort in Miami as potential violations of the U.S. Constitution's Emoluments Clauses.

The Oversight and Judiciary Committees sent letters to several Trump administration agencies and officials on Friday, including the White House and its top attorney, the vice president, the Secret Service and the Trump Organization, requesting documents and information about the matter, including costs. The probe comes as the Judiciary Committee continues to investigate whether to file articles of impeachment against Trump.

"The Committee does not believe that U.S. taxpayer funds should be used to personally enrich President Trump, his family, and his companies," Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings, a Maryland Democrat, wrote.

Pence's trip has come under scrutiny for his decision to lodge at Trump's golf resort in Doonberg, Ireland, which was about 180 miles away from where his meetings with foreign leaders took place. A top aide to Pence at first said the vice president was acting on a "suggestion" by Trump to stay at the resort, a comment that was later walked back by the aide and denied by the administration.

democrats investigating Pence Trump
President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence enter the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House to make remarks August 5 in Washington, DC. Photo by Alex Wong/Getty

The Judiciary Committee, chaired by New York Democrat Jerrold Nadler, first said last week he intended for his panel to investigate Trump's intentions on hosting the 2020 G7 Summit at Trump National Doral Miami, something Democrats believe could violate both the foreign and domestic Emoluments Clauses meant to deter corruption and foreign influence by baring sitting presidents from personally enriching from foreign and domestic governments.

"Potential violations of the Foreign and Domestic Emoluments Clauses of the Constitution are of grave concern to the Committee as it considers whether to recommend articles of impeachment," Nadler and fellow Judiciary Committee Democrat Steve Cohen wrote to White House Counsel Pat Cipollone and the Secret Service.

Under the Trump presidency, violating the Emoluments Clauses have long been a concern of Democrats, who say that by the president continuing to profit from his various businesses and properties stationed around the U.S. and the globe, Trump is breaking precedent by not placing these assets in a blind trust and the law by inappropriately benefiting. Hundreds of congressional Democrats are in the midst of ongoing litigation with Trump as part of their lawsuit claiming he's in violation of the constitution.

During Pence's Ireland visit, he stayed at the Trump International Golf Club in Doonberg, a move he characterized as "logical" for Irish-American relations and because his cousin lives in the small town, in addition to it being where his great-grandmother grew up. However, the vice president was forced to board Air Force Two each day because his commute to the country's capitol city of Dublin was roughly 180 miles away.

Pence's chief of staff, Marc Short, told reporters Tuesday that Trump did not make "a request, like a command," but rather "a suggestion." Pence interjected, saying he had family ties and that the location was suitable for security concerns. After a denial by the White House that such a "suggestion" was made, Short issued an early morning statement Wednesday walking back the remarks and claiming there was "misreporting" by news outlets.

House Democrats aren't the only ones probing for more information about the Ireland trip.

Senator Gary Peters of Michigan penned a letter Thursday to Pence asking for details about costs and comparable rates to other hotels in the area. Peters, as the top Democrat on the chamber's Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, was one of three lawmakers who successfully got a government watchdog agency to investigate and reveal that it costs taxpayers roughly $3.4 million each trip Trump takes to his exclusive Mar-a-Lago resort in South Florida.

A Democratic committee aide suggested Thursday that Peters may ask the Government Accountability Office, the agency that published the Mar-a-Lago travel costs, to open an investigation, telling Newsweek in a statement that "Senator Peters expects the Office of the Vice President to provide the information requested in a timely manner. However, a GAO request is another oversight tool that is available to safeguard taxpayer dollars."

Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts senator and Democratic presidential candidate, sent a similar letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday about the oversea costs.

During this year's G7 Summit held in France last month, Trump revealed he was considering hosting next year's gathering of international leaders at his Doral golf resort in Miami. He told reporters he was "not at all" concerned about the ethics and claimed he would not make a profit. Trump went on to boast of his resort's amenities.

"We have a series of magnificent buildings; we call them bungalows. They each hold from 50 to 70 very luxurious rooms with magnificent views. We have incredible conference rooms, incredible restaurants," Trump said. "I'm not going to make any money. I don't want to make money. Don't care about making money."