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Air Force spent at least $184,000 at Trump’s golf resort in Turnberry, Scotland

A golfer tees off on one of Scotland's iconic courses with what is now the Trump Turnberry Hotel in the background. (Stephen McKay/Geograph)

The U.S. military has spent at least $184,000 at President Donald Trump’s golf resort in Turnberry, Scotland, according to partial data from the Department of Defense that was released Wednesday by the House Oversight Committee.

The amount of previously underreported spending is enough to have booked 650 rooms at the lush seaside property between August 2017 and July of this year.

“Although the Department’s response is belated and deficient, it still reveals that far more taxpayer funds have been spent at the President’s resort than previously known,” Maryland Democratic Reps. Elijah Cummings and Jamie Raskin wrote in a letter to Defense Department officials seeking more information.

Early press reports discovered one stay and then four. But based on the scant 21 pages of documentation the Defense Department has so far turned over, the military has booked more than three dozen blocks of rooms at the high-end resort.

The military said in all it had spent $124,578.96 for rooms for service members in the period, averaging $189 a pop. It also reported “an additional $59,729.12” in spending on government credit cards that it did not itemize or explain.

The resort lost money before 2017, according to earlier reports.

Democrats have focused on Turnberry because they allege the money goes to Trump in apparent violation of the “emoluments clause” of the Constitution, which bars the president from profiting from government business. Oversight Committee Republicans have countered that Trump’s room fees were the cheapest available.

Democrats have also raised concerns about the local airport, Prestwick. Trump worked before he was president to keep the facility open because it makes it possible for international travelers to reach his resort easily. And having the resort as a draw helps the airport.

It was also reportedly losing money, and was taken over by the Scottish government. The U.S. military started using the airport late in the Obama administration, and Republicans on the Oversight Committee pointed out that the military signed a contract to refuel there in 2016, before Trump took office.

From Jan. 20, 2017, when Trump took office, through June 21 of this year, the military spent $16.6 million on fuel.

Committee Democrats want to know more about exactly how and where all the money was spent.

“Without the requested invoices and other documents, the Committee cannot assess the full extent of payments in violation of the Emoluments Clause,” Cummings and Raskin wrote. “In addition, the Committee cannot answer basic questions, such as how many military personnel were involved and who authorized their stays.”

The Defense Department also has not turned over any communications from outside the department. And, although Trump tweeted soon after the first revelations about the stopovers that he had “nothing to do” with any of it, Defense officials referred the committee to the White House for such documents.

“It is unclear why the Department is coordinating its response with the White House, why the Department is withholding these documents from Congress, and on what basis the Department is still suppressing this information from the American people,” the congressmen wrote.

They gave the department until Sept. 27 to provide more information.


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