Eric Trump was asked during a pub crawl with his big brother in Ireland if his trip was a “good use of U.S. taxpayer money.” He told the BBC journalist: “We’re just trying to have a good time” — and refused to answer any other questions.
Earlier, President Donald Trump was asked by a journalist if he traveled to Ireland only to promote his golf resort. He said, “This trip is really about great relationships that with have with the U.K.” — perhaps unaware that Ireland is not part of the United Kingdom. He also included a pointed plug for his business: “I love to come to Ireland and stay at Doonbeg.”
Trump had insisted before the trip that the Irish premier, Leo Varadkar, meet with him at his resort. An Irish official called it “unseemly” and said that it was inappropriate for a visiting foreign leader to dictate a meeting location.
Varadkar preferred to meet at a site with meaning to the Irish, the historic Dromoland Castle, close to Doonbeg, where George W. Bush had met with a past premier.
The two men ended up meeting for just 65 minutes in a lounge at the Shannon Airport before Trump took a helicopter to Doonbeg on the Atlantic Coast. He returned again to his course after a D-Day commemoration in Normandy on Thursday. He calls his resort “convenient and a great place,” but staying there required a flight hundreds of miles west from London to Ireland on Wednesday, then another flight hundreds of miles back east, past London and into France on Thursday, The Washington Post pointed out.
The tab for the journey will add to the $102 million Trump has already spent on trips to his golf resorts, according to a recent analysis by HuffPost.
But more troubling to critics and former ethics officials was the propriety of Trump’s grown children and their spouses tagging along on the president’s European trip. Eric’s wife, Lara Trump, is an adviser to the president’s reelection campaign.
The White House has said the adult children were paying for their trip, but what expenses they’ll actually cover — and what they are — aren’t yet known. Hotel bills and other costs already appear astronomical. The State Department arranged to rent four limousines for two days in Ireland for the Trump entourage at a cost of $935,000, The Guardian reported, even though the president and Melania Trump travel by helicopter in the country.
In addition, the Trump brothers are managing a company with business before the Irish government. The golf resort is pushing for a final go-ahead over activists’ protests to build a seawall at the Doonbeg resort, which is threatened by flooding due to climate change.
“My concern is that Donald Trump Jr. and Eric are the two sons running the business, so their day job is to try and enrich the Trump Organization,” Richard Painter, the chief ethics lawyer under George W. Bush, told Newsweek
The brothers’ presence “gives the impression that the Trump family has their hands out looking for profitable business opportunities” even as Trump is “conducting diplomacy for the U.S.,” he added. The message is that the way to “get in good with the Trump White House ... is to work deals with the Trump family.”
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article misspelled the name of the Taoiseach. His name is Leo Varadkar.