Speaking to reporters Sunday afternoon, Trump spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders declined to name Trump’s golf partner that morning and characterized the president’s time on the course as “a couple of holes.”
On Monday, Sanders issued a statement acknowledging that Trump had spent more time on the links than advertised.
“As stated yesterday the President played golf,” Sanders said. “He intended to play a few holes and decided to play longer. He also had a full day of meetings, calls and interviews for the new [national security adviser], which he is continuing today before returning to Washington, D.C. Tonight.”
Later Monday, the White House announced that Trump had chosen Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster to replace Michael Flynn as national security adviser.
Sanders did not respond to a question about whether the outing with McIlroy fit Trump’s definition of a business-conducive outing.
According to No Laying Up, Trump and McIlroy were joined Sunday by Nick Mullen, a sports agent, and Rich Levine, a Trump friend. McIlroy is a professional golfer from Northern Ireland who is a member of the European and PGA Tours.
As a candidate, Trump often criticized President Barack Obama for his frequent golfing, claiming that Obama played more often than professionals.
“While our wonderful president was out playing golf all day, the TSA is falling apart, just like our government!” Trump said on Twitter last year, referring to the Transportation Security Administration. “Airports a total disaster!”
Trump has also said that he would play only with world leaders and other people with whom he was seeking to make deals. He did that last weekend in Florida with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe — an outing the media was not allowed to witness.