President Donald Trump’s two nights in Ireland after a three-day state visit to the United Kingdom ended up costing taxpayers an estimated $3.6 million, Business Insider reports. The brief trip raised eyebrows abroad when the president declined to visit Dublin, the country’s capital, in favor of staying at Trump’s own golf resort in Doonbeg. Some watchdog groups have continued to express ethics concerns around Trump’s frequent visits to his own golf courses, pointing out that they amount to self-promotion at a very high cost to taxpayers.
According to a report released in February by the Government Accountability Office, four trips in 2017 to Trump’s private club Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida cost $13.6 million, or about $3.4 million each, putting Trump’s Ireland excursion about on par with typical travel costs. Much of those costs come from the dozens of White House staffers who are included in such trips, which tend to spike for international travel. Presidential expenses such as the use of Air Force One and Secret Service protection also contribute to the costs, as does money paid to organizations like local sheriff’s departments and similar agencies.
According to HuffPost, the State Department filed for contracts weeks ahead of Trump’s travel. Some of these included $1,023,940 to rent cars and limos, $10,866 to install temporary phone lines, and another $16,325 to rent golf carts for the Secret Service agents staying with Trump on the golf course.
In total, those contracts reached about $1.5 million.
These costs are generally in line with typical presidential travel measures, but many expressed confusion with this trip in particular as Trump described it as “convenient” and implied that it would not be an expensive or logistically complex addition to the U.K. trip, though it added hundreds of miles and millions of dollars to overall costs.
Trump was asked if the purpose of the Ireland trip was to promote his golf course.
“I really wanted to do this stop in Ireland,” Trump said. “It was very important to me because of the relationship I have with the people and with your prime minister.”
Ireland’s Minister of State Pat Breen told The Irish Times that the president discussed both golf and his resort at their meeting.
“We talked about the important role that the resort in Doonbeg plays in local economy,” he said. “He said he was looking forward to playing a round of golf.”
In October 2016, the Government Accountability Office released a report on the travel of then-President Barack Obama for a similar trip, which landed at approximately $3.6 million.