US Defence Dept spends £140,000 at Donald Trump's Turnberry resort

Donald Trump's Turnberry resort is at the centre of a Congressional inquiry. Picture: John Devlin
Donald Trump's Turnberry resort is at the centre of a Congressional inquiry. Picture: John Devlin
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The US Defence Department has spent more than £140,000 at Donald Trump's loss making flagship Scottish resort since August 2017, according to a powerful US Congressional committee investigating the ties between the US president's business, the US military, and Glasgow Prestwick Airport.

The House Oversight Committee, which is investigating potential conflicts of interest surrounding Mr Trump's Turnberry hotel and golf resort, said spending records show the Pentagon has used US taxpayers' money to pay for more than three dozen separate stays, involving hundreds of nights of room bookings.

While the committee claims the US Defence Department is continuing to withhold information about its patronage of Mr Trump's South Ayrshire firm, describing its response to date as "woefully inadequate," the new disclosures detail an unprecedented level of transactions between the Trump administration and the president's resort.

Information disclosed so far shows that the department's spending at Turnberry amounts to $124,578 (£99,719) over the period August 2017 to July this year. That, says the House Oversight Committee, is the equivalent of more than 650 rooms, or "more than one room every night for more than one and a half years" as Democrats Elijah Cummings and Jamie Raskin put it.

However, even that figure does not include an additional $59,729 (£47,810) run up in unspecified charges on government travel cards, which brings the total military spending at Turnberry to more than $184,000 (£140,000).

As previously revealed by The Scotsman, the US State Department has spent tens of thousands of pounds at Mr Trump's struggling resort - transactions that are the subject of separate inquiries in the US Congress - but even that level of custom is dwarfed by what the Pentagon is spending.

In a letter sent today to the Pentagon, Mr Cummings and Mr Raskin, respectively the chair of the House Oversight Committee and the Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties in the US House of Representatives, demanded documents being withheld by the US Defence Department following previous requests for information.

In a statement, the two men said: "Unfortunately, the department’s response has been woefully inadequate. To date, the department has produced only 21 pages of material - half of which appear to be publicly available on government websites.

"The department failed to produce any underlying invoices or travel records relating to spending at Trump Turnberry or Prestwick Airport. It is unclear why the department has taken so long to produce such rudimentary and deficient information.”

They added: “Although the department’s response is belated and deficient, it still reveals that far more taxpayer funds have been spent at the president’s resort than previously known. Although initial press accounts reported only a single instance of a military crew staying at Trump Turnberry this spring, the data provided by the department now indicates that US. taxpayer funds have been used to pay for more than three dozen separate stays involving hundreds of nights of rooms - all after the president was sworn into office.”

According to the disclosures, the US Defence Department stayed that the average cost of a room for military personnel staying at Turnberry was $189 (£151).

In addition, fuel expenditures at Prestwick Airport from 20 January 2017 through 21 June this year amounted to $16,617,664.7 (£13,301,775).

The Scotsman revealed details of the fuel spending - organised through a contract between Prestwick and the US Defence Logistics Agency - in June. It also revealed last week that a new deal between the state-owned airport and the DLA had been postponed, with one source stating that it had been "kicked into the long grass" in light of the Congressional inquiry.

The House Oversight Committee also raised concerns with the US Defence Department’s refusal to disclose its communications with outside entities about Trump Turnberry or Prestwick Airport, instead referring the committee’s requests for these documents to the White House, despite the president’s claim on Twitter that he had "nothing to do" with these matters.