According to a Friday report by Politico, an Air National Guard crew running supplies from the US to Kuwait was rerouted to stay at Trump’s Turnberry golf club and resort in Scotland. President Donald Trump’s golf courses in Ireland and Scotland have been losing money, and it appears Trump has been using government funds to prop up these properties by forcing military members and government officials to stay at his properties. This is highly unusual for the members of the military, who typically stay and refuel at military bases.
“The crew were so confused by what was happening when they were rerouted to Scotland to refuel at this tiny airport outside of Trump Turnberry because they had never done that before in the fifty-plus trips they had taken to do these routine supply trips,” Natasha Betrand, who broke the story along with Bryan Bender, said on The Rachel Maddow Show on Friday. “They didn’t have enough money; their per diem allowance didn’t even allow them to buy food and drinks there. They felt totally out of place.”
And the military appears to be complicit, refusing to cooperate with an investigation by the House Oversight Committee into the matter. “The Defense Department has not produced a single document in this investigation,” a senior Democratic aide on the oversight panel told Politico. “The committee will be forced to consider alternative steps if the Pentagon does not begin complying voluntarily in the coming days.”
House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings and Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) noted in a June letter to the Department of Defense that U.S. military expenses at the small, struggling Prestwick airport near Turnberry “appear to have increased substantially since the election” to the tune of $11 million. Members of the committee also told Politico they are investigating not just the Turnberry stop but also military expenditures at other Trump-owned resorts and refueling stops at private airports near those resorts.
Vice President Mike Pence has also been implicated for his stay at Trump’s struggling Doonbeg golf course in Ireland where he stayed for five days, which included multiple flights out of Shannon Airport, the airport closest to Trump’s resort which has been struggling and losing passengers. Were the airport to close, Trump would stand to lose money because it would become harder for people to get to his resort, but by having Pence stay there, he is essentially injecting US government funds into the facility.
Cummings and House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler sent parallel letters to the White House, Secret Service, and Trump Organization asking for documents related to Pence’s stay. The committees’ investigations are looking to find Trump in violation of the emoluments clause of the Constitution, which prohibits the president from using his position to enrich himself by taking payments from local, state, federal or foreign governments.
“The committee does not believe that U.S. taxpayer funds should be used to personally enrich President Trump, his family, and his companies,” Cummings wrote in his letter.
When asked about Pence’s stay, White House officials told the media that it was Trump’s “suggestion” that he stay at the resort, but they later changed their story, claiming, “at no time did the president direct our office to stay at his Doonbeg resort.”
And, Trump has said that he wants to host the next G7 summit at Trump National Doral, his property close to Miami, which would be another opportunity to line his pockets with government funds.
But the corruption goes even deeper. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Republican groups have spent almost $20 million at Trump-owned properties since 2015. And, according to Zach Everson who runs a newsletter that tracks patronage at Trump’s DC hotel, 24 out of 32 Trump cabinet members have been seen or have spent money at the Trump International Hotel in the capital.