US military officials are disputing a report that claims a joint Air Force and Alaska Air National Guard unit on a routine mission to Kuwait went miles out of their way just so they could spend the night at a resort in Scotland owned by President Donald Trump.
Politico first reported that the military transport that took off from a US base in Anchorage, Alaska, in March spent the night at the Turnberry resort, about 50 miles outside Glasgow.
The disclosure comes as Mr Trump last week denied he had any role in Vice President Mike Pence booking a room at a Trump resort in Ireland or Attorney General William Barr booking at holiday party at a Trump property in Washington, D.C., actions which Democrats and critics claim enrich the president at taxpayer’s expense.
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has opened an investigation into the matter.
Military flights making stopovers in Scotland are not unusual, and there were no rooms closer to the airport, an Air Force spokesman said Saturday.
“As our aircrews serve on these international airlift missions, they follow strict guidelines on contracting for hotel accommodations and all expenditures of taxpayer dollars,” Brigadier
General Edward Thomas said: “In this case, they made reservations through the Defense Travel System and used the closest available and least expensive accommodations to the airfield within the crews’ allowable hotel rates.”
The routine airlift mission was on a C-17 shared by the Air Force and the Alaska Air National Guard, with a crew of seven.The flight took off from Anchorage on 13 March, making stops at bases in Nevada and New Hampshire before going to Glasgow Prestwick Airport and eventually Ali Al Salem base in Kuwait.
The crew was back in Alaska on 19 March.
A local government contractor made the Scotland reservations, and indicated there were no appropriately priced hotel rooms closer to the airport than the loss-making Trump resort, 54 miles away, Brig Gen Thomas said.
He added this was not an unusual distance to travel to receive the government rate for the rooms.
He said the Trump resort had rooms for $136 a night, cheaper than the Marriott, which charged $161 a night. Both are under the per diem allowance rate of $166.
“While we are still reviewing the trip records, we have found nothing that falls outside the guidelines associated with selecting stopover airports on travel routes and hotel accommodations for crew rest,” Brig Gen Thomas said.
He said records are being reviewed, but it appears the crew stayed at a Marriott near Glasgow on its return trip to Alaska.
A recent Scotsman investigation detailed how Prestwick’s parent company has received more than £9.02m for 644 orders to refuel US Armed Forces aircraft between October 2017 and March this year.
Scotland on Sunday revealed at the weekend that in the six months since, a further slew of refuelling orders has netted Prestwick a further £4.8m.