Exclusive:Revealed: The huge bill Donald Trump’s Scottish resorts charged Secret Service for former US president's visit

US taxpayers face a bill for the former US president’s golfing trip

Donald Trump’s Scottish properties charged the US Secret Service more than £20,000 for accommodation during his trip to Scotland earlier this year, with documents obtained by The Scotsman showing that the agency had to seek approval for payments that exceeded US government-sanctioned rates.

A tranche of spending records disclosed to this newspaper following a Freedom of Information request to the Secret Service show Mr Trump’s two resorts received sizable payments from the government he used to helm, inviting further scrutiny over how his private businesses continue to benefit from his chaotic four years in America’s highest public office.

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Mr Trump’s Turnberry property in South Ayrshire, where he occupied his time by playing several rounds of golf, mingling with hotel guests and taking part in a television interview with former UKIP leader Nigel Farage, received the lion’s share of the payments. The Secret Service paid Turnberry more than £18,000, despite the fact Mr Trump and his entourage only stayed at the coastal resort for one night. That is nearly double what the Secret Service paid Turnberry during Mr Trump’s trip there in 2018, when he stayed for two nights.

While the Secret Service refused to reveal the room rate it paid, the documents reveal the agency had to request permission from another US government body to pay more than the “allowable” amount. An influential US congressional committee has been investigating the practice at Mr Trump’s US properties, but the Turnberry payments mark the first time that such requests have been linked to his international properties.

Mr Trump, who remains the frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024 despite facing a slew of criminal court cases, flew to Scotland at the start of May. While there, he played golf at Turnberry’s Ailsa course, while shunning questions about whether he thought he would end up in prison. He also oversaw ground-breaking work on a second course at his resort in Balmedie, Aberdeenshire.

Save for his own employees, who turned out en-masse to greet Mr Trump at both properties, there were sparse crowds waiting for him at both locations, with only around a dozen people at Turnberry for his arrival. Even so, US taxpayers are on the hook for the visit, with the Secret Service spending a total of $108,559 (£85,602) on the Scotland trip. It is expected that figure will rise once travel costs are factored in.

The documents obtained by The Scotsman show Turnberry, which has already received around £300,000 from US government agencies over the past six years, was paid $22,917 (£18,070) to cover accommodation. The Secret Service ran up additional expenditure of $32,243 (£25,424) in staffing costs with the Turnberry leg of the visit. The paperwork shows the Secret Service made a “lodging variance” request to the US General Services Administration, an agency of the federal government tasked with cost-minimising policies and other management tasks.

Last autumn, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform wrote to the Secret Service’s director, Kimberly Cheatle, questioning the “excessive” and “exorbitant” nightly rates charged by the Trump Organisation’s properties. The congressional committee cited the “long-standing concerns surrounding the former president’s conflicts of interest and efforts to profit off the presidency”.

Another document released to The Scotsman shows Mr Trump’s Aberdeenshire resort was paid $2,609 (£2,058). Details of the number of rooms hired at both properties, and the cost per night, were redacted. The disclosure also shows the Secret Service spent $8,614 (£6,782) on rooms at the Crowne Plaza hotel near Aberdeen airport. A further $42,173 (£33,254) was added to the bill for ‘temporary duty’ staffing costs.

Jordan Libowitz, communications director for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a government ethics watchdog in Washington DC, told The Scotsman the higher rates charged by the Trump properties were part of a pattern.

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“While Eric Trump claimed that the Trump Organisation only charged the Secret Service a nominal fee of 'like $50', we've seen a pattern of the Secret Service being charged not just a full rate, but a rate above what would normally be allowable for them to pay,” he said.

“The Trump Organisation could easily comp the Secret Service when it protects the Trump family on their promotional trips to their properties.”

Heather Sawyer, executive director of American Oversight, a US-based ethics watchdog, said: “It is no surprise that former President Trump … continues to charge the Secret Service exorbitant rates to stay at his properties while US taxpayers foot the bill.”

Earlier this summer, The Scotsman revealed how UK taxpayers were on the hook for almost £60,000 in Police Scotland overtime payments for Mr Trump’s first visit to his mother’s homeland since he was defeated in the 2020 US presidential election. Police Scotland also incurred subsistence costs of £2,012 for its staff covering Mr Trump’s tour of his Scottish properties, a visit referred to by senior officers as Operation Booknote. The force confirmed there was “no cost recovery” mechanism for the expenditure, meaning taxpayers will be liable for the full costs.

The latest accounts for Mr Trump’s Scottish properties show they ran up losses totalling more than £15m in 2021. Since incorporating his first business here in 2005, his firms have lost £76m. Turnberry’s parent company, is reliant on intercompany loans worth £131m, while Mr Trump continues to provide a £40.6m interest free loan to his Aberdeenshire resort.

The Trump Organisation did not respond to enquiries from The Scotsman.



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