President Donald Trump has not been coy in spending taxpayer dollars at his resorts. Trump has gone out of his way to stay at his resorts in Ireland and Scotland during overseas trips.
He strongly encouraged Vice President Mike Pence to recently spend several nights at his Doonbeg resort in Ireland, forcing Pence to fly each day into Dublin for meetings with the Irish government. After initially indicated Trump influenced the Veep’s decision, the Vice President and his chief of staff then announced Trump has not influenced their travel plans.
Trump is also looking strongly at naming his Trump National Doral resort as host of the 2020 G7 Summit, from which he would directly benefit in a likely violation of the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution.
All of this has been happening in plain sight. However, Congress has been investigating if the President has been more covertly using the American military to line his pockets and prop up his Trump Turnberry resort in Scotland.
Politico reports the House of Representatives’ Oversight Committee has been investigating military expenditure as it relates to the Turnberry resort.
In particular, the Oversight Committee is looking into the Air Force flying C-17s and other military planes to Scotland’s Prestwick Airport, which is the nearest airport to Turnberry. Since October 2017, the Air Force has spent more than $11 million on commercially priced fuel at the airport, the Scottish government bought it in 2013 for £1, to refuel planes rather than landing at available military bases, which charge substantially less for fuel. The airport has been actively courting American military contracts and deals, while the Scottish government has been keeping details of those efforts secret. In an effort to sweeten deals, the airport has offered American servicemembers free rounds at Trump Turnberry’s golf courses and discounted rooms at the luxury property. Despite the price cuts, the cost for food and drink at Turnberry, which is 30 minutes from the Prestwick airport, is substantially more than an officer’s per diem.
Trump purchased Turnberry in 2014 for approximately $63 million from Dubai-based Leisurecorp. (Subsequently, Trump has been given contracts to operate a pair of high-profile courses in Dubai: Trump International Golf Club and the forthcoming, Tiger Woods-designed Trump World Golf Club.) Trump then invested $150 million in cash toward renovations of the property and adding a second golf course to complement the storied Ailsa Course. The cash-backed nature of the renovation is unusual for the Trump Organization, according to the New Yorker.
The Glasgow-area Prestwick airport has been losing money for years. However, the Scottish government denies knowledge of these deals, which have stemmed losses at the airport. The government is actively looking for a buyer as the airport losses mount beyond £50 million since its purchase. In a letter announcing their intention to sell the airport, the government said the airport is “integral” to Turnberry’s success.