Trump Tries To Grift Golf Cash From UK Government
Sorry to interrupt your pandemic-race war news cycle, but we've got some good, old-fashioned corruption this morning. Donald Trump has been leaning on the British government to bail out his Scottish money hole Trump Turnberry by sending the British Open his way. Because, shit, gotta grift it all while you can, right?
The New York Times reports that Robert "Woody" Johnson IV, our ambassador to the United Kingdom, told multiple people in 2018 that Trump had asked him to enlist our closest ally to steer some of the sweet, sweet golf cash his way. And although Johnson's deputy Lewis A. Lukens told him it would be wildly unethical, the Johnson & Johnson heir went ahead and did it anyway. Because, hello, this is the Trump administration. These fuckers just tried to host the G7 at Trump's Doral property in the middle of the impeachment investigation, and only backed down when the GOP itself said, "Dude, could you not!"
The Turnberry property has been a consistent money-loser for the Trump family, which plowed $150 million into renovating it in 2016. That's not the kind of cash hole you dig yourself out of by parking US troops there and hoovering up their per diem allowances every once in a while. Hosting a major golf tournament would be a major infusion of pounds and publicity that the resort sorely needs.
There's just one problem though, and it is that Donald Trump is slightly less popular than herpes in the UK. Also in the US, the EU, Latin America, Australia ... anyway! The point is, no one outside Mar-a-Lago wants to patronize the president's properties, and any event at Turnberry would be a magnet for protest and controversy. As Martin Gilbert, CEO of Aberdeen Asset Management, which sponsors the Scottish Open, said in 2017, "Politics aside, Trump would be an ideal venue — but you can't put politics aside."
As with every other Trumpland story, below the topline corruption, you find a whole mess of other hinky shit. Lukens, a career State Department employee, was pushed out because he said something nice about Barack Obama. Ambassador Johnson was inappropriate with staff, making remarks about women's appearances in meetings and asking if an applicant to replace Lukens was Jewish. The State Department Inspector General investigated it all in a report that was supposed to be released to the public in February or March, but wasn't. Third verse, same as the first.
Just the usual death to American democracy and prestige by a thousand tiny cuts. The UK was nice enough to deny that Johnson had asked about the golf tournament — stiff upper lip, wot wot. But the State Department couldn't even be bothered, simply issuing the usual, blanket attaboy that "We stand by Ambassador Johnson and look forward to him continuing to ensure our special relationship with the U.K. is strong."
Hang on, America, just 182 more days!
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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.