House Investigating Military Spending at Trump Property in Scotland

Published on September 7, 2019 by Athena Pallas

The House Oversight Committee is now investigating questionable U.S. military spending made at and around Trump Turnberry resort in Scotland, bringing up a new round of concerns that President Trump is using his office for financial gain, in violation of the emoluments clause of the Constitution. Politico last evening was the first to break the story of the House investigation, which has apparently gone unreported previously despite being in progress since April. An example of what is being investigated is an Air National Guard crew stay at Trump Turnberry, at taxpayer expense, both going to and returning from a supply deliver trip from the U.S. to Kuwait. That trip would not normally involve a stopover in Scotland, with refueling stops in Germany or Spain more the norm.

The military has also spent millions of dollars at the airport closest to Trump Turnberry for refueling, which would be cheaper if done on a military base, the way it would normally be done. It turns out that the military has spent $11 million at that airport, Prestwick Airport, the closest one to the Trump Turnberry resort, just since October of 2017. That spending could indirectly benefit Trump’s property, and is therefore also under investigation by the House. The property, which has been struggling financially, relies on the proximity of that airport to make it viable, but the airport itself has been struggling financially. The Scottish government purchased the struggling airport in 2013 for just one pound, but announced in June it was seeking to sell it because of its continued poor financial performance. The unnecessary U.S. military spending there could be seen as helping to keep the airport afloat financially, to the benefit of Trump’s property. Again, it is not normal for such refueling to be done at a public airport instead of a U.S. military base, where the fuel would also be cheaper. According to Politico:

Since April, the House Oversight Committee has been investigating why the crew on the C-17 military transport plane made the unusual stay – both en route to the Middle East and on the way back – at the luxury waterside resort (Turnberry), according to several people familiar with the incident. But they have yet to receive any answers from the Pentagon. The inquiry is part of a broader, previously unreported probe into U.S. military expenditures at and around the Trump property in Scotland. According to a letter the panel sent to the Pentagon in June, the military has spent $11 million on fuel at the Prestwick Airport – the closest airport to Trump Turnberry – since October 2017, fuel that would be cheaper if purchased at a U.S. military base. …Taken together, the incidents raise the possibility that the military has helped keep Trump’s Turnberry resort afloat – the property lost $4.5 million in 2017, but revenue went up $3 million in 2018. …Accusations that Trump’s properties are unfairly profiting off of his administration have dogged the president since entering office.

This report of allegedly inappropriate U.S. military spending at and around Trump’s Turnberry property has sparked outrage among Democratic lawmakers. Representative Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (D-NY), for example, in response tweeted, “The President is corrupt and must be impeached”.

Representative Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) expressed both outrage and the expectation that Republicans will largely stay silent on this subject, tweeting “The torrent of rancid corruption and outright thievery in the Trump White House is wo/parallel in our history. Will a single elected republican at any level of government say a word about this? I’ll give you one guess.”

The revelation that that the House is investigating U.S. military spending at and around Trump’s Scottish resort comes only days after the controversy of Vice President Pence staying at a Trump property in Ireland, even though that property is 180 miles away from where Pence was having meetings in Dublin. Trump has attempted to distance himself from the decision-making regarding having Pence stay at his Irish property at taxpayer expense, but shows no signs of changing his behavior to avoid the appearance of improperly enriching himself from his office. Trump, for example, is reportedly considering hosting next year’s Group of Seven (G7) gathering of world leaders at his Doral resort in Florida, which would provide a financial windfall to the property.

The Trump administration has so far failed to respond to the House Oversight Committee’s requests for information related to this issue. According to Politico, a senior Democratic aide for the Oversight committee said, “The Defense Department has not produced a single document in this investigation. The committee will be forced to consider alternative steps if the Pentagon does not begin complying voluntarily in the coming days.” This scandal being publicized may add pressure for a response to be made.

Featured image via Wikimedia Commons.