Government

Grassley defends Trump's Mar-a-Lago trips

On meeting with China's president: 'I'd call that work'

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) speaks during the fourth day of hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee for Neil Gorsuch to become an Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court in the Hart Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, Mar. 23, 2017. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) speaks during the fourth day of hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee for Neil Gorsuch to become an Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court in the Hart Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, Mar. 23, 2017. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley defended President Donald Trump’s trips to his Mar-a-Lago golf resort on Wednesday, weighing in on what has become a source of complaint from Democrats and even some Republicans, including Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa.

On a conference call Wednesday, Grassley, R-Iowa, responded to a question about the president’s visits — a reporter called them “outings” — to the Florida club. Grassley objected to the term and cited the president’s meeting earlier this month with China’s president, Xi Jinping.

“He goes down there to have a good environment to talk to the president of China so he can get the president of China to go to intervene in the case of North Korea being a threat to the United States,” Grassley said. “I wouldn’t call that an outing. I’d call that work.”

The president’s trips to the private golf club have drawn fire from critics, who cite the expense and his ownership of the club. Just this week, a State Department blog post promoted the club. It has since been removed.

During the campaign, Trump frequently criticized President Barack Obama for his time on the golf course and said he wouldn’t have time for the sport. It’s not always been clear how much time the president hits the links. The White House doesn’t often say, according to reports.

Either way, the administration and the president’s defenders say that the president isn’t vacationing at Mar-a-Lago, that he’s been working on these trips.

Last week, Ernst was critical of the trips after she got question about the subject at a town hall meeting in northwest Iowa.

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Ernst said she had not spoken to the president about the Mar-a-Lago trips, “but that is something I think that has been bothering not just me but some other members of our caucus.”

She also said, “I think it’s smart that he does business in Washington, D.C.”

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