- 259 military crews have refueled at Scotland’s Prestwick Airport just this year, according to a report from The New York Times. The struggling airport is the closest one to President Donald Trump’s Turnberry resort, which has had its own share of financial woes.
- Forty Air Force crews have stayed at Trump Turnberry on overnight refuelling trips, Politico reported Thursday; the total number of troops that have stayed there is unknown. Trump’s golf resort is 54 miles away, a long drive for a tired aircrew.
- Over the past two years, US military refuelling at Prestwick has earned the airport $US17.3 million. And since Trump has been in office, overnight says by military crews have earned his resort nearly $US200,000.
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A report from The New York Times on September 12 found that from January to August of this year, 259 military crews have refueled at Prestwick Airport, about a 40-minute drive from President Donald Trump’s struggling Trump Turnberry Resort in Scotland.
The airport, which Trump touted as an integral part to his resort when he bought it in 2014, has been struggling to keep its doors open as of late. But a refuelling deal with the US government is keeping the airport afloat, to the tune of $US17.3 million since August of 2016. And Trump’s resort has reportedly made nearly $US200,000 from overnight stays by Air Force crews since he took office, renewing concerns among lawmakers.
The refuelling deal was signed under President Barack Obama, but it came into significant use under Trump, with the number of stopovers at Prestwick growing from 156 in 2016, to 259 just through August of this year.
Two hundred and twenty of the stopovers have required overnight stays, The New York Times reports, citing the Department of Defence, up from 75 in 2016. Employees at Prestwick book hotel rooms for the military crews that arrive in C-130 Hercules transport aircraft, but they don’t all go to Trump Turnberry – there are budget options right beside the airport – “Turnberry is generally booked only if other hotels are unavailable or if customers specifically request it,” Michael Matheson, the Scottish transport minister, told Scottish Parliament earlier this week.
But, according to Turnberry staffers who requested anonymity, a surprising number of military personnel do. According to Politico, the Air Force has spent nearly $US200,000 on approximately three dozen stays at Trump’s resort since August 2017, just months after he took office. In a letter to Secretary of Defence Mark Esper, Chairman of the House Oversight Committee Elijah Cummings and Rep. Jamie Raskin, who are both Maryland Democrats, expressed concern that the sum paid for “hundreds of nights of rooms – all after the President was sworn into office.”
The House Oversight Committee has been investigating the stays since April amid concerns that they violate the domestic emoluments clause, which bars the president from earning any money from the federal government besides a salary.
Trump has denied any involvement in the military crews at his resort, tweeting, “They have good taste!”
While military personnel get a discounted rate at the Trump resort – as little as $US130 per night, compared to about $US380 per night- they must abide by the Defence Travel System, which gives personnel a $US166 per diem for accommodations. It’s unclear how many military personnel have stayed at Trump Turnberry, but The New York Times found that the State Department had paid the resort – which lost $US4.2 million in 2017 – at least $US64,000 over the past two years, some of which may have been refunded.
The Air Force has launched an investigation into the way airmen select lodging in the wake of the scandal, which found that Trump Turnberry has also hosted 40 US Air Force crews since 2015, although it’s unknown how many total military members stayed there, or how many crews have lodged there since Trump came into office in 2017,Politico reports.
Air Force secretary nominee Barbara Barrett told the Senate Armed Services Committee that she would “take a look at” service members staying at Trump properties, but didn’t outright say she would prohibit the practice, Politico reported.
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