Former US president Donald Trump has told Sky News that he flew to his golf course in Ireland instead of attending his civil rape trial in New York because of a “long-standing agreement” to visit.
He spoke briefly after arriving at his golf course outside the town of Doonbeg in Co Clare, on Ireland’s west coast.
When asked why he was there, instead of facing in person the rape allegation made by accuser E Jean Carroll, he said: “We’ve had a long-standing agreement to come here. We’ve had a tremendous reception, a beautiful reception.
“The people of Ireland have been great, and we’ve had tremendous success, and I hear we’re doing very well in New York.”
Former magazine columnist Ms Carroll has said Mr Trump raped her in a department store dressing room in 1996 – a claim the former President denies.
The civil case has entered its second week in a Manhattan courtroom, but Mr Trump has not attended the trial, and flew to Scotland on Monday to visit his two golf resorts there.
He travelled to Shannon Airport on Wednesday, and will play golf at Doonbeg on Thursday, before bringing his trip to a close.
He also told reporters that the impasse over post-Brexit trading arrangements in Northern Ireland was a “tough one”.
“Well we’re going to see, they’re negotiating and we’re going to see. There are a lot of negotiations going on in Ireland and other places right now, but it’s going be a tough one,” he said.
“It’s not an easy one. We have to work it out.”
Donald Trump remains a popular figure in the tiny seaside destination of Doonbeg.
His hotel employs around 300 people at peak season – that’s roughly the population of the entire village.
People here disassociate themselves from his politics, and instead focus on his vital economic contribution to the area.
As a result, tough questions are rarely asked when Mr Trump visits, as he has done half a dozen times since purchasing the resort in 2014.
After I asked him why he was on a golf trip instead of facing the rape accusations in person in a New York courtroom, he stopped to give an answer.
But after he moved on, I was called a “f****** scumbag” by a small group of bar patrons, who demanded to know why I had “attacked” the former president.
While the vast majority of locals, including the courteous and professional hotel staff, tolerate the media attention, some here are clearly resentful of outsiders questioning their loyalty to the Trump family – even if Donald Trump is facing legal accusations of the utmost gravity.
The former president may only be on a fleeting visit – but here in this beachside haven, he knows he’s among staunch friends.
Mr Trump’s reference to ongoing negotiations in Ireland, comes despite months of talks between the European Union and the British government, which culminated in the Windsor Framework, although No 10 is still in talks with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) about accepting the deal.
Apart from the civil rape case, the trip to Scotland and Ireland is also Mr Trump’s first abroad since he became the first former US president to face criminal charges.
No travel conditions were placed on him after he pleaded not guilty to 34 counts of falsifying business records in New York in April.