WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- The Air Force has decided to examine all layovers after military air personnel stayed overnight at Trump’s Glasgow resort before going to Kuwait.
- Despite the Air Force saying that the trip was officially booked through the Defense Travel System without breaching any rules, it agreed to have its layovers evaluated to avoid impressions that it is ‘not good stewards of taxpayer funds’.
- Though an ethics investigation topic of House committee leaders for weeks, the stop was not disclosed until Politico published it on Friday.
The Air Force said on Sunday that they believe no rules have been broken when a military crew stopped over in Scotland and stayed overnight at President Trump’s Turnberry resort, while on their way to Kuwait.
However, due to a possible notion that the Air Force is “not good stewards of taxpayer funds”, it has decided to probe into all layovers.
While the trip to Trump’s resort in March has been, for weeks, an ethics investigation topic of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, it wasn’t publicly revealed until Politico reported it on Friday.
Committee leaders wrote in a June letter to then-acting defense secretary Patrick Shanahan that they were conducting an inquiry into whether Trump may have profited from “receipt of emoluments in violation of the U.S. Constitution.”
But chief spokesman for the Air Force, Brig. Gen. Ed Thomas, said in a statement on Sunday that the trip was routinely booked via the Defense Travel System based on the nearest available and least expensive accommodations that were within the crews’ government rates.
Besides pointing out that the stopover of a U.S. Air Force C-17 in Glasgow, Scotland is not uncommon, Thomas also emphasized that no rules related with the selection of stopover airports on travel routes and hotel accommodations for crew rest have been violated.
Nevertheless, Thomas understands that appearances matter, that is why the Air Force’s in-house travel agency, Air Mobility Command, is assessing all guidelines associated with selecting airports and lodging accommodations during international travels.
“Even when USAF aircrews follow all directives and guidance, we must still be considerate of perceptions of not being good stewards of taxpayer funds that might be created through the appearance of aircrew staying at such locations,” he said.
Since 2015, the Glasgow Prestwick Airport has been used as a stopover location for C-17s because of its availability around the clock unlike other military stopover locations, according to Thomas. He told NBC News that it has better weather and not as crowded as other Scottish airports. In addition, aircrews usually lodge in commercial properties when “military billeting is unavailable due to capacity limits.”
On this particular mission, Thomas said that the cost of stay at the Turnberry on the way to Kuwait and at a Marriot hotel on the way back for the aircrews was less than the Air Force’s allowable daily rate of $166.
Source: NBC News