How much did it cost taxpayers for Pence to go to Colts game?

One of the most talked-about plays during Sunday football appears to have been called by President Trump — and executed by his vice president.

The president says he asked Vice President Mike Pence to leave the Colts-49ers game in Indianapolis if any players kneeled during the national anthem. 

They did — and he did. 

San Francisco 49ers took a knee ahead of the game on Oct. 8, 2017. CBS News

More than a dozen San Francisco 49ers again took a knee, prompting Pence to walk out after the national anthem. The vice president immediately sent tweets about it that seemed teed up for a hasty exit, like one with a prepared graphic saying "I stand with President Trump. I stand with our soldiers, and I will always stand for our flag and our national anthem."

Simultaneously, the president was tweeting that he asked Pence to leave "if any players kneeled."

There was hardly any "if" about it; NFL players protesting racial injustice by taking a knee originated with the 49ers former quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

Press traveling with the vice president were kept in vans instead of accompanying him into the game as they normally would have if he were planning to stay.

Vice President Mike Pence during the Indianapolis Colts game on Oct. 8, 2017. CBS News

"It appears that the entire trip to attend the game was designed in order for Vice President Pence to walk out," John Wonderlich of the Sunlight Foundation said. 

Critics like Wonderlich say taxpayers bore the cost, including at least $120,000 for Air Force Two for the trip from Las Vegas to Indianapolis to Los Angeles.

But that's only a fraction of the total. Secret Service agents swept everyone at the stadium with magnetometers, advance teams needed hotel rooms and transportation.

"When there are issues in the country that are going on that are so serious, it seems so strange for presidential attention and public funds to be used to weigh in on the actions of private citizens in the NFL," Wonderlich said. 

Vice President Mike Pence's trip on Air Force Two from Las Vegas to Indianapolis to Los Angeles cost $120,000. CBS News

CBS News spoke to one Republican involved in past presidential travel who said it likely cost more than a million dollars. The White House says Pence had been planning to go to the game for weeks and claimed he actually SAVED flying costs by not going back to DC in between events in Las Vegas and LA. 

  • Julianna Goldman On Twitter»

    Julianna Goldman is a CBS News correspondent based in the Washington bureau.