Trump ‘Scotlandgate’ Air Force Story Crushed By NYT Report Of Long-Standing Lodging Deal
The latest leftist triggering over President Trump has once again fizzled – although the truth never gets as much attention as the initial outrage.
After the MSM spent days lambasting Trump over a report that seven US Air Force C-17 crew stayed at his Scotland resort during an overnight refueling stop, the New York Times has revealed in a follow-up that the Trump Organization had a preexisting lodging deal with both the Scottish airport and the US military that predated his presidency.
The government records, released through Scottish Freedom of Information law, show that the Trump organization, starting in 2014, entered a partnership with the airport to try to increase private and commercial air traffic to the region.
As part of that arrangement, the Trump Organization worked to get Trump Turnberry added to a list of hotels that the airport would routinely send aircrews to, even though the Turnberry resort is 20 miles from the airport, farther away than many other hotels, and has higher advertised prices.
Both the Defense Department and executives at the airport confirmed on Monday that the airport also has a separate arrangement with the United States Air Force. Under that arrangement, the Scottish airport not only refuels American military planes but also helps arrange hotel accommodations for arriving crews, as it does for some civilian and commercial aircraft. –NYT
“We provide a full handling service for customers and routinely arrange overnight accommodation for visiting aircrew when requested,” the Prestwick airport said in a Monday statement, adding “We use over a dozen local hotels, including Trump Turnberry, which accounts for a small percentage of the total hotel bookings we make.”
Not only that, Trump’s resort was cheaper than the Marriott.
The crew, which consisted of active duty and national guard members from Alaska, was charged $136 per room, which was less expensive than a Marriott property’s rate of $161. And both were under the per diem rate of $166. –NYT
“A local agent on contract with the U.S. government assisted with the reservations and indicated that there wasn’t a room available closer to Prestwick airport,” said the Air Force in a statement, while a DoD official added on Monday that the Air Force “relies on a contracted representative at the Prestwick airport to support our aircrew needs.”
The number of such stops by Air Force planes at Prestwick rose from 180 in 2017 to 257 last year and 259 so far this year. The 259 stops this year included 220 overnight stays. Since October 2017, records show 917 payments for expenses including fuel at the airport worth a total of $17.2 million.
Air Force officials could not say on Monday how many times military crews had been sent to Trump Turnberry, but added that they are now going through vouchers to come up with such a count. –NYT
On Monday, President Trump tweeted: “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”
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
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 9, 2019
Then, Trump dismissed the entire ordeal, suggesting that he’s so wealthy that the extra business was a drop in the bucket.
“I don’t need to have somebody take a room overnight at a hotel,” he said.
That said, the “gotcha” in the NYT report is that “documents obtained from Scottish government agencies show that the Trump Organization, and Mr. Trump himself, played a direct role in setting up an arrangement between the Turnberry resort and officials at Glasgow Prestwick Airport” (which still predated his presidency).
Deputy commander of the Air Force Air Mobility Command Lt. Gen Jon T. Thomas said in a Monday interview that the Air Force has been using Prestwick for stopovers since at least the late 1990s, and that the rising number of stopovers was based entirely on operational demands; the airport has 24-hour operations and is in a convenient location.
That said, Thomas says the Air Force is reviewing the decision to place Air Force crew members at a hotel owned by the Trumps.
“Let’s make sure we are considering potential for misperception that could be created by where we billet the aircrews,” adding “It is a reasonable ask for us to make sure we are being sensitive to misperceptions that could be formed by the American people or Congress or anyone else.”