The seats were much cheaper than even standing-room-only seats in Nationals Park, many of which were going for $1,000 or more on the secondary market before the Series came to Washington for games three through five.
One of the Republican officials, who along with others spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal RNC matters, said MLB charged face value for box seats and sent an invoice to the committee. A White House official said it would have been impossible for the president to sit anywhere other than a secure box because of Secret Service safety requirements.
Spokespeople for MLB and the Nationals did not respond to requests for comment.
Members did not receive a ticket for the game and were whisked in with the president, according to people familiar with the arrangement — going through a tunnel, into a freight elevator and into the luxury box about eight minutes before the first pitch.
Both House and Senate ethics rules generally allow members to attend events free if they are legitimate fundraisers. But Republican officials said the game was not considered a fundraiser and the Trump campaign did not play a role, leading to questions among some members about whether they needed to pay for tickets.
“We paid for the box because the president was there,” a senior Republican official said. The official said that it was valuable for members to discuss issues with the president about their districts and the national political landscape.
Trump decided which members of Congress to invite largely based on their perceived loyalty to him, and invited some members from Texas because the Astros were in the World Series, a person familiar with the event said. The Astros won the game that night, 7-1.
The members Trump brought to the game included Sens. Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.) and David Perdue (Ga.); House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.); and Reps. Andy Biggs (Ariz.), Kevin Brady (Tex.), Liz Cheney (Wyo.), Matt Gaetz (Fla.), Kay Granger (Tex.), Mark Meadows (N.C.), John Ratcliffe (Tex.), Steve Scalise (La.) and Mac Thornberry (Tex.).
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who also spent time with Trump during the game, did not come with the group and was in a nearby box, according to an adviser.
After the game, there was confusion among some offices on whether they were on the hook for the cost. Cheney’s chief of staff asked the White House at least four times on how to pay for the ticket but did not get a response, according to records reviewed by The Washington Post.
“Congresswoman Cheney will provide whatever reimbursement is necessary,” said Jeremy Adler, a spokesman.
“The Leader was honored to attend the game with the President, and follows any and all federal ethics guidelines applying to this event,” McCarthy spokesman Matt Sparks said in a statement.
Graham said in an interview late Friday that he had no idea who paid for the tickets but would reimburse if he needed to do so.
A senior White House official said MLB agreed to let the president use the luxury box, which was reserved for league use. Some baseball officials were also present for the game, and commissioner Rob Manfred played golf with Trump the day before.
When Trump went to the national football championship in Atlanta last year, the Republican National Committee paid for a luxury box for the president and his guests, according to an official involved in the planning of the event.
A senior Republican official said the party also pays for events at the White House such as the Easter Egg Roll and Christmas parties.
The owners of the Nationals did not want Trump to visit their box, according to people familiar with the matter. The president was overwhelmingly booed during the game in Democrat-heavy Washington.
Ari Fleischer, a former spokesman for President George W. Bush, said he was never asked who paid for Bush’s trips to games.
“The RNC pays for whatever portion of a trip is political,” he said.
Paul Kane and Chelsea Janes contributed to this report.