Pence defends stay at Trump's Ireland hotel

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence drew fire from Democrats on Tuesday when he met with Irish leaders in the capital, Dublin, but stayed at a hotel owned by President Donald Trump almost 300 kilometers (180 miles) away, at Trump's urging.

Pence flew to Dublin on Tuesday after spending the night at the Trump International Golf Club in Doonbeg on the west coast of Ireland. The hotel also hosted the Trump family during a brief trip to Ireland by the president in June.

When asked about the criticism, Pence said, "If you have a chance to get to Doonbeg you'll find it's a fairly small place and the opportunity to stay at Trump National at Doonbeg, to accommodate the unique footprint that comes with out security detail and other personnel made it logical.:"

Asked if Trump had suggested that Pence stay at the property, the vice president's chief of staff, Marc Short, told journalists, "I think that it was a suggestion."

"It's like when we went through the trip it's like, `Well, he's going to Doonbeg because that is where his family is from, it's like `oh, you should stay at my place'," Short said. "It wasn't like a `you must.' It wasn't like a `you have to.'"

Pence's stay was paid for by U.S. taxpayers, Short said, but the vice president personally paid for his sister and mother who had traveled with him. Pence's great-grandmother was from Doonbeg.

Trump has retained ownership of his hotels, golf courses and other businesses, but he gave control of the businesses to his sons shortly before he took office in January 2017.