Mr. Pence told reporters Tuesday he had always planned a trip to Doonbeg, because he has familial roots in the town, and that staying at the 120-room Trump resort made sense for his large staff. But that is not a satisfactory explanation for staying across the country from Dublin, the nation’s capital and the site of the meetings he is ostensibly in Ireland to attend. Marc Short, Mr. Pence’s chief of staff, argued that, after Mr. Trump canceled his trip to Poland, leaving Mr. Pence to fill in for him, the scrambled schedule limited the vice president’s options. Yet he also admitted that Mr. Trump suggested the stay at Doonbeg.
Trumpworld’s ethical carelessness has steadily spread from Mr. Trump himself, who began his presidency by refusing to disclose his basic financial information and properly distance himself from his privately held business, to the rest of his administration. Cabinet official after Cabinet official has resigned because they wasted taxpayer dollars on expensive trips and blandishments. Now, the vice president brings a gaggle of staff to a resort the president owns, at the president’s urging, and he shrugs it off as unavoidable.
Mr. Pence should have been more attuned to the appearance of self-dealing. If there were ever a good time for such a lapse, this is not it. Mr. Trump ended last month’s Group of Seven conference by talking up his struggling Doral golf resort in South Florida and suggesting that he would hold the next G-7 summit there. The Trump International Hotel in Washington has already become a conduit through which foreign and domestic lobbyists can funnel revenue into the president’s business. They have, at grand scale.
Senior administration officials should not find themselves in the position of deciding whether to spend large amounts of public or private money at a property the president owns. Mr. Trump claims he is losing money on net during his administration, as though serving were a burden that justified the enrichment his business gains from his office.
Then again, because the president has refused to release his tax returns, all the public has is Mr. Trump’s word that he is losing money. That and $395 will buy you one night in the Trump International Hotel.