- The Air Force is reviewing its procedures for choosing hotels after revelations about a crew staying at a resort owned by US President Donald Trump.
- The Air Force confirmed on Saturday that a C-17 crew had stayed Trump’s Turnberry resort in Scotland for a night in March during a refueling stop on a trip to Kuwait.
- Turnberry is 54 miles from Prestwick Airport, where he refueling stop took place.
- A spokesperson initially said the Air Force had done nothing improper and “used the closest available and least expensive accommodations to the airfield within the crews’ allowable hotel rates.”
- But the Air Force said on Sunday that it would review if such stays are “advisable,” even if they are technically allowed.
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The US Air Force is reviewing how it picks where its crews stay overnight after it was revealed that crews had driven over 50 miles to stay at US President Donald Trump’s own resort in Scotland, according to a report from Politico.
Brigadier General Ed Thomas, the Air Force’s chief spokesman, told Politico: “We are reviewing all associated guidance” after the publication reported that Air Force personnel had stayed at Trump’s Turnberry resort, which is 54 miles from Prestwick Airport, where the planes were refueled.
Thomas told Politico that “initial reviews indicate that aircrew transiting through Scotland adhered to all guidance and procedures” but also conceded that “lodging at higher-end accommodations, even if within government rates, might be allowable but not advisable.”
The Air Force said in a statement on Sunday that: “Air Force leadership directed Air Mobility Command to review all guidance pertaining to selection of airports and lodging accommodations during international travels,” CNN reported.
The Air Force confirmed on Saturday that a C-17 crew had stayed at Trump’s resort for a night in March during a refueling stop while flying to Kuwait.
Thomas denied to The New York Times that anything improper had occurred, and said that it had “used the closest available and least expensive accommodations to the airfield within the crews’ allowable hotel rates.”
He added that the 54-mile-trip from Prestwick Airport to Turnberry is “not a remarkable distance to travel to receive government rate lodging.”
The Trump property cost $136 a day, while a nearby Marriott cost $161. The spokesperson said that the Air Force’s spending limit was $166, and said the crew used the Marriott on the return leg of the trip.
Politico also reported on Sunday that a unit of the Maine Air National Guard stayed at the resort in September 2018, according to a person familiar with the trip, an Instagram post, and a voucher that showed the crew’s arrangements.
The Air Force did not answer Politico’s questions about that trip.
A Trump Organization representative told The New York Times that military personnel have stayed at Turnberry a few times a year, and that the government was given a cheaper rate of around $100 per night.
- Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
Trump tweeted on Monday that he had nothing to do with the decision to use his resort.
“I know nothing about an Air Force plane landing at an airport (which I do not own and have nothing to do with) near Turnberry Resort (which I do own) in Scotland, and filling up with fuel, with the crew staying overnight at Turnberry (they have good taste!). NOTHING TO DO WITH ME,” he wrote.
Lieutenant General Jon Thomas, the deputy commander of the Air Force’s Air Mobility Command, which will lead the probe, told Politico that it will look into whether or not staying in Trump’s properties is a good idea, even if it does not violate any rules.
“What the chief is getting at is just because you can, we should also be asking ourselves the question about should,” he said.
“And the question there is, as our crews are following all guidance and directives we also have to be sensitive to the possible perceptions that might be created on where they may stay.”
The House Oversight and Reform Committee launched a probe in April into the military’s use of the resort, looking at the military’s increased use of the Prestwick airport, which is close to Trump’s resort, compared to other airports, such as Ireland’s Shannon airport, which were previously used more often.
- The Trump Organization
The New York Times reported that the Department of Defense has made 259 stopovers in Prestwick airport so far this year, compared to 95 stopovers in 2015.
The new scrutiny comes amid ongoing criticism of how Trump treats his businesses during his presidency and how officials, including Vice President Mike Pence, stay at Trump properties during official visits.
Trump also tweeted on Monday that he had “nothing to do” with Pence’s stay at his resort in Doonbeg, Ireland, which was the other side of the country to his meetings in Dublin.
“I had nothing to do with the decision of our great @VP Mike Pence to stay overnight at one of the Trump owned resorts in Doonbeg, Ireland. Mike’s family has lived in Doonbeg for many years, and he thought that during his very busy European visit, he would stop and see his family!”