'I Know Nothing' Says Trump In Almost-True Tweet Denying Hoovering Military Money For His Hotel
When Donald Trump tweeted yesterday that the US Air Force members staying at his Scottish golf course had "NOTHING TO DO WITH ME," he wasn't lying. Well, not exactly. It's safe to assume that the president wasn't personally taking phone calls at his Turnberry resort to book rooms for American air crews at his hotel.
I know nothing about an Air Force plane landing at an airport (which I do not own and have nothing to do with) near… https://t.co/CIdvPFJSki— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump) 1568036626.0
But he definitely knew about the arrangement with Prestwick Airport to book rooms at Turnberry, since Trump himself was instrumental in setting it up. The Scotsman's Martyn McLaughlin, who used the Scottish Freedom of Information Act to access emails from the government-owned airport, recalls a press conference in 2014 where Trump promised to bring "hundreds" more planes to the money-losing airport twenty miles away from his money-losing golf course. Then the orange-haired tycoon invited journalists to tour his personal jet with 24-carat gold seatbelt buckles. After first making them put booties on over their shoes, of course.
“US tycoon Donald Trump in talks with Ryanair to bring more flights back to Prestwick Airport” http://t.co/9zLfXM3U4B via @Daily_Record— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump) 1427743893.0
The New York Times has pieced together the negotiations to get the resort on to the list of preferred providers for hotel booking by Prestwick staff.
Looks like the resort cut its prices to get a piece of the action, and wound up getting business when the airport needed large blocks of rooms at the last minute. Which Turnberry always had, because Donald Trump's brand is shit. Hence they were able to accommodate a reservation for a 45-room block, booked on June 17, 2015, for the very same day.
All of which was basically fine before Vladimir Putin made That Idiot president. The problem, apart from Trump's brazen lies about the partnership, is the suspicious confluence of Trump's election and a massive uptick in US military stops at the airport. In 2015, the Air Force made 95 stops with 40 overnight stays, and in the first eight months alone of 2019, there have been 259 stops with 220 overnight stays.
WHAT CHANGED? Why did it somehow become more desirable for American planes to pay commercial rates to refuel outside Glasgow, instead of filling up more cheaply at American bases in Germany, Spain or Italy, where crews could usually be billeted for free? Why has the US government spent $17 million on fuel at Prestwick in the past two years, and does this expenditure have anything to do with the stunning turnaround at Turnberry, which increased its revenue by $3 million year-on-year from 2017 to 2018?
Indeed, the House Oversight Committee has been wondering the same thing for some time now. It sent a request for information to the Defense Department in June. But Bill Barr has decreed that OVERSIGHT IS ILLEGAL, so of course there was no response. And with the steady avalanche of putrid corruption coming out of this administration, the issue got moved to the back burner.
But now Chairman Cummings is taking advantage of the media attention to publicly renew his demands for information on the Turnberry boondoggle. In a letter this morning, Cummings promised to start dropping subpoenas if the DOD doesn't start ponying up documents by the end of this week. He also used some interesting language on Emoluments.
In order to ensure compliance with the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, the Department of Defense should not allow any of its officials to stay at Trump properties using taxpayer funds. It does not matter if they pay the government rate or a discounted rate. The Constitution prohibits taxpayer dollars from going to President Trump unless they are for his salary, including when those taxpayer funds are funneled through his businesses. In order to stop contributing to any further constitutional violations, the department should immediately implement a policy against taxpayer funds going to any Trump related properties or businesses.
Did you ever think you'd live to see the day when Republicans defended the God-given right of public officials to make money off the government? At least Spiro Agnew had the decency to do his dirty business in the basement.
Your Wonkette also has questions. Sources told The New York Times that the rooms booked for seven airmen at Turnberry in March were cheaper than those available at 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.
"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," the Air Force said in a statement. A Defense Department official added on Monday that "yes — the Air Force relies on a contracted representative at the Prestwick airport to support our aircrew needs."
The fact that Turnberry was less expensive than the Marriott is not the same as saying it was the cheapest option. Although an Air Force spokesman told Politico there was nothing absolutely else available for less, which seems ... improbable, unless the layover coincided with the annual Bagpipe and Sheepshankers Festival, which is highly unlikely, since Your Wonkette just made it up this minute. But here's where the internet suggest we stay for a random night in March if we find ourselves at Prestwick Airport.
And who made the decision to put these service members up at a place where they couldn't even afford to eat? Politico's Natasha Bertrand told Rachel Maddow that the crew "didn't have enough money. Their per diem allowance didn't even allow them to buy food and drinks there. They felt totally out of place." Was there a tacit arrangement that Americans would be steered toward Trump's hotel? How exactly did this whole thing come about?
This shit reeks worse than haggis, and we're not swallowing that either. It's subpoena-thirty, fuckers! PONY UP!
[The Scotsman / NYT / Turnberry-Prestwick Docs / Oversight Letter]
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Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.