WASHINGTON (CN) – The U.S. Air Force said it will begin a review of its layover guidelines, as President Donald Trump denied knowing that crew members stayed overnight at his resort in Scotland while on their way to a routine mission in Kuwait in March.
“I know nothing about an Air Force plane landing at an airport (which I do not own and have nothing to do with) near Turnberry Resort (which I do own) in Scotland, and filling up with fuel, with the crew staying overnight at Turnberry (they have good taste!). NOTHING TO DO WITH ME,” Trump tweeted Monday.
The Air Force said in a statement Sunday that it will “review all guidance pertaining to selection of airports and lodging accommodations during international travels.”
“While initial reviews indicate that aircrew transiting through Scotland adhered to all guidance and procedures, we understand that U.S. Service members lodging at higher-end accommodations, even if within government rates, might be allowable but not advisable,” the agency said. “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.”
The Air Force said that Prestwick airport, about 20 miles north of the Trump Turnberry resort, is amenable because of its 24/7-hour operation and favorable weather patterns.
Its statement said that since 2015,, Air Force planes have stopped at Prestwick a total of 936 times, and 659 of those stops included overnight stays. The highest number of stops per year were in 2018 and 2019, with 257 and 259 stops at Prestwick, respectively.
The Air Force also said that it first looks to have crew members lodge on a U.S. military bases, but sometimes they cannot due to capacity limits. The crew then looks to stay at nearby available locations that “limit expense by remaining at or under the [Department of Defense] maximum allowable rate.”
“In some cases, these lodging options are at locations which could be considered ‘higher-end’ hotels; existing policy is that as long as the location is suitable and within the allowable DOD rate, aircrews may stay at a ‘higher end’ hotel,” the release states.
The review announcement comes less than a week after House Democrats demanded travel expenditure records from Vice President Mike Pence’s recent trip to Ireland that included a stay at a Trump resort there.
On Monday morning, Trump reiterated the claim that he had no involvement in Pence’s travel arrangements.
“I had nothing to do with the decision of our great @VP Mike Pence to stay overnight at one of the Trump owned resorts in Doonbeg, Ireland. Mike’s family has lived in Doonbeg for many years, and he thought that during his very busy European visit, he would stop and see his family!” Trump tweeted Monday.
Democrats claim stays at Trump properties may violate the Constitution’s emoluments clauses, which prohibit the president from receiving gifts from foreign or state governments or officials while in office without congressional consent.
According to a letter from the House Oversight Committee to the White House last week, Pence’s Chief of Staff Marc Short said Trump personally directed the vice president to stay at the Trump International Golf Links and Hotel in Doonbeg, saying, “You should stay at my place.” The resort is almost 200 miles outside of Dublin, where the vice president’s official meetings were scheduled.
The House Judiciary Committee is also investigating the president’s promotion of the Trump National Doral Miami resort as a possible venue for the next G7 summit.
“The Doral and Doonbeg cases are just two of the many examples of the solicitation or receipt of foreign government spending to the benefit of the President’s private financial interests,” Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., wrote in a letter last week.