Air Force acknowledges crew stayed at Trump resort during refueling but says it was ‘not unusual’

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A general view of the Trump Turnberry hotel and golf resort in Turnberry, Scotland.

The Air Force, which said in a statement it was reviewing the trip records, said the stop was “not unusual.” But it’s another example of Trump’s company earning money from taxpayer dollars, which has led some government watchdogs to argue the arrangement breaches ethical norms and potentially violates a clause of the US Constitution.

“As our air crews serve on these international airlift missions, they follow strict guidelines on contracting for hotel accommodations and all expenditures of taxpayer dollars,” Air Force Brig. Gen. Ed Thomas said in a statement. “In this case, they made reservations through the Defense Travel System and used the closest available and least expensive accommodations to the airfield within the crews’ allowable hotel rates. While we are still reviewing the trip records, we have found nothing that falls outside the guidelines associated with selecting stopover airports on travel routes and hotel accommodations for crew rest.”

The Air Force said the crew on the March 13 consisted of seven active duty and National Guard crew members, adding that although they stayed at Turnberry en route to Kuwait, “it doesn’t appear” they did so on the trip back to the US.

The Air Force said the Turnberry resort was less expensive than a nearby Marriott and that both were under the per diem rate of $166. The Air Force also said it schedules stopovers based on such factors as leg distance and contract fuel availability.

Crews use a commercial airport — Prestwick in Glasgow — when they stop for refueling in Scotland.

The Pentagon and White House have not responded to CNN’s request for comment regarding the stopovers in Scotland and the stays at Turnberry. The Trump Organization also did not respond to a request for comment regarding the stays at Turnberry.

The use of Trump’s private properties for government-related travel has been an ongoing controversy during his presidency. Vice President Mike Pence’s recent decision to stay at Trump’s resort in Doonbeg, Ireland — hours away from his scheduled events in Dublin — led House Democrats on the oversight and judiciary committees to demand documents about how the decision was made. Trump also raised eyebrows during last month’s G7 meeting by suggesting the 2020 event should be hosted at his golf resort in Miami, and internal Defense Department documents obtained by CNN show that department personnel have charged more than $300,000 at Trump-branded properties since the start of Trump’s presidency through last November.
The House Oversight Committee has been investigating for several months whether increased military expenditures benefiting the Trump Turnberry golf course and resort in Scotland represent a conflict of interest for the President, according to committee documents.

But the Defense Department has refused to comply with investigators’ requests to date, a senior Democratic committee aide told CNN on Friday.

The newly revealed investigation, which was first reported on Friday by Politico, represents yet another front at which House Democrats are probing Trump’s finances and businesses, with various Democrat-led panels pushing new or existing probes going into the 2020 election season. Republicans have accused Democrats of presidential “harassment” and launching a fishing expedition.



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