Published: Wed, September 11, 2019
Worldwide | By Lisa Hogan

U.S. Air Force Responds to Trump Hotel Controversy

U.S. Air Force Responds to Trump Hotel Controversy

The US Air Force (USAF) has ordered a review of its guidance on overnight accommodation for flight crews.

In a pair of tweets Monday morning, President Trump addressed the mounting "scandal", denying any role in the decisions by government employees - both the Air Force crew and Pence - to stay overnight at his resorts.

In a statement released Sunday evening, the Air Force admitted that while those crews appeared to follow all guidelines and procedures, staying at the president's higher-end hotels might be allowed "but not advisable".

"In order to stop contributing to any further constitutional violations", the Democrats said, "the department should immediately implement a policy against taxpayer funds going to any Trump-related properties or businesses".

The US House Oversight Committee has said that they are investigating the decision for Pence to stay in Doonbeg, making this the second investigation in two weeks into the use of the President's properties by the White House.

Democrats and critics argue such stays might enrich the president at taxpayers' expense as crews who land at the airport then go on to stay at the nearby Trump Turnberry resort. According to Politico, there were 95 stops and 40 overnights in 2015; that number had jumped to 180 stops with 116 overnights in 2017, and rose to 257 stops with 208 overnights past year.

Trump said he has successfully pressured several countries to pay more of their North Atlantic Treaty Organisation commitments, as the US routinely pays more than its own minimum requirement per year. The [DOD] also claimed that it has "increasingly leveraged Prestwick as a stopover location" and stated that in the first eight months of this year, [DOD] aircraft made 259 stops-220 of which were required overnight crew stays.

According to Politico, which broke news of the House investigation, the letter said USA military spending at Prestwick, the closest airport to Trump's resort, appeared to have "increased substantially since the election".

The Air Force said it has "increasingly leveraged" Prestwick as a stopover location following a flight directive issued to mobility crews in June 2017, which it said was "designed to increase efficiencies by standardizing routing locations, with Prestwick being among the top five locations recommended for reasons such as more favorable weather than nearby Shannon Airport and less aircraft parking congestion than locations on the European continent". The room rate for the recent Scotland stays was $136 a night, cheaper than Marriott's government rate of $161 a night, the Air Force said. The vice-president stayed at the Trump International Golf Club in Doonbeg, on the west coast.

Several minutes later, Trump fired off a similar tweet about Pence's stay at Trump's Doonbeg resort in Ireland last week. Trump wrote of the crew members, before adding: "NOTHING TO DO WITH ME".

The House Judiciary and Oversight Committees have asked for records regarding Pence's stay at the Doonbeg resort as well as Trump's suggestion that the 2020 G-7 summit be held at Trump National Doral Miami. "Every time you find a person landing in an airplane within 500 miles of something I own - Mike Pence, as an example - his family lives in, he actually told me he stayed there many years ago".

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