Leading US politicians, including a prospective presidential candidate, have called for an investigation into whether a tranche of US government payments to Donald Trump’s Turnberry resort constitute “fraud” or “abuse”.
The prominent Democratic politicians, including senator Elizabeth Warren, have demanded a detailed breakdown of the tens of thousands of pounds in payments to Trump’s flagship Scottish business, citing a recent Scotsman report which broke down the federal funds it received in connection with his UK visit.
They have urged the US State Department and the Department of Homeland Security to launch a wide-ranging investigation and audit, and asked for details of how much, if at all, Trump’s company has profited.
Last month The Scotsman revealed how the State Department sanctioned £52,477 in payments to Trump’s SLC Turnberry Limited firm for the “working visit”, which saw the 72-year-old play two rounds of golf at Turnberry.
Scotland on Sunday can reveal that, on 3 August, the State Department made a further payment of £7,917 to SLC Turnberry for hotel rooms covering a separate “VIP visit”. It is not disclosed who the VIPs in question were, but Eric Trump visited Turnberry in the first week of August.
It means that, so far in 2018, Trump’s company has received as much as £66,042 from his own government.
The trio of politicians pressing for answers includes Warren, the Massachusetts senator who has been widely tipped as a Democratic nominee for president in 2020, and Elijah Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, one of the most powerful investigative committees in the US Congress.
Together with Tom Carper, a Democratic senator for Delaware, they have written to John Kelly, the acting inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security, and Steve Linick, the inspector general of the State Department, asking them to examine the payments.
In their letter, the high-ranking politicians state: “During his stay at Trump Turnberry, the president made no public appearances and played two rounds of golf. Reporting thus far suggests that this cost American taxpayers over $68,000 for hotel rooms, phone lines, rental cars, and a ‘VIP visit’.
“The trip’s total price tag is reportedly set to increase further, up to $1.2m, with payments to Trump Turnberry potentially exceeding $100,000, when costs are assigned to two remaining open contracts that the US Government owes SLC Turnberry Limited, the company that owns the resort.”
The politicians, all vocal opponents of the Trump administration, say that the president and first family’s choice of travel and accommodation has previously resulted in “exceptionally high costs”, pointing to Trump’s frequent weekend visits to his US golf resorts, including Mar-a-Lago in Florida and Bedminster in New Jersey, trips which led to a “severe depletion” in the Secret Service’s budget.
Their letter adds that although “there is no question” that the Secret Service is required to protect the president and his family, regardless of where and how they choose to spend their time, it was important to “ensure the sound stewardship of taxpayer dollars” and “better understand any instances of waste, fraud, or abuse associated with the president’s stay in Scotland”.
They urged Kelly to “conduct an investigation” that addresses eight questions, including how much Trump’s company “gained in profits” from the spending.
Although Trump stepped down as a director of SLC Turnberry Limited last January, it remains wholly owned by him via a New York state grantor trust.