The U.S. Air Force has ordered a world-wide review of how it chooses overnight accommodations on long flights following revelations that air crews had occasionally stayed at President Donald Trump’s Scotland resort while refueling at a small commercial airport nearby.
The review comes as additional instances of military personnel staying at Trump properties have been uncovered. The C-17 crew’s overnight stay at Trump’s Turnberry resort in Scotland earlier this year, first reported by POLITICO on Friday, was not an isolated incident.
In September 2018, on its way back to the U.S. from Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar, a unit of the Maine Air National Guard landed at Prestwick Airport, the airport closest to Trump’s luxury waterfront resort. The crew and their passengers then spent the night at his hotel, according to one person who was present, an Instagram post and a voucher detailing the crew’s itinerary reviewed by POLITICO.
The Air Force did not immediately respond to questions about that September stay, but Air Force Brig. Gen. Ed Thomas, the chief spokesman, told POLITICO in a statement that “initial reviews indicate that aircrew transiting through Scotland adhered to all guidance and procedures.”
He acknowledged, however, that U.S. service members “lodging at higher-end accommodations, even if within government rates, might be allowable but not advisable. Therefore, we are reviewing all associated guidance.”
He added: “Even when USAF aircrews follow all directives and guidance, we must still be considerate of perceptions of not being good stewards of taxpayer funds that might be created through the appearance of aircrew staying at such locations.”
POLITICO on Friday first reported that the House Government Oversight and Reform Committee launched a probe of the Scotland operations in April out of concern that the use by the military of the Trump property and the nearby airport could pose a conflict of interest for the president — and to determine whether the Pentagon is helping to boost the fortunes of the struggling Trump’s Scottish golf resort.
That includes a stopover in March of this year in which a seven-person crew of a C-17 cargo plane from the Alaska Air National Guard en route to Kuwait stayed at the plush resort. At least one member of the crew was frustrated that the food and drink was over his government allowance, even though the Air Force has said the nightly rate was less expensive than other potential options closer to the airport.
Trump has responded to the charges this morning:
Yyyyeah. “They have good taste”. He should have stopped at “I know nothing”, but instead he went on to make praise of his — um, his son’s — resort. That’s basically throwing his sons Don Jr and Eric under the bus.
The US military has stopped at Prestwick Airport 629 times since Oct 2017.
Total cost of all those refueling stops is $11 million and is ‘substantially’ more than was spent there before Trump took office.
To be continued? I hope so.
This is important, but I hope the news media doesn’t miss the story. The REAL motivation for Trump here is to use the US military’s refueling to save the Prestwick Airport because it is critical to Turnberry’s survival. He already went on record in 2014 that he’d save the airport https://t.co/YbcBgQxsTn— John Ziegler (@Zigmanfreud) September 9, 2019