September 22, 2019
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House panel urges Defense Department to stop spending money at Trump properties

Scott Heppell | AP
Scott Heppell | AP
In this Aug. 1, 2015, file photo, then-presidential candidate Donald Trump leaves by his helicopter on the third day of the Women's British Open golf championship at the Turnberry golf course in Turnberry, Scotland. The Air Force is reviewing how crews on international travel choose airports and hotels after one crew recently spent a night at a Trump resort in Scotland.

WASHINGTON – Democratic leaders of the House Oversight Committee urged the Defense Department on Tuesday to stop spending taxpayer funds at properties owned by President Donald Trump, as the panel threatened to subpoena documents related to a Trump resort in Scotland where Air Force crews have stayed.

In a letter, committee Chairman Elijah Cummings, D-Maryland, and Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Maryland, a subcommittee chairman, renewed a request from June for documents related to the Trump Turnberry resort, about 30 miles from Glasgow Prestwick Airport, a stopover site that the Air Force has used with increased frequency during Trump’s tenure.

The new request came after the Air Force announced Sunday night that it is conducting a review of its selection of lodging accommodations amid heightened scrutiny of the placement of service members at the Scotland property owned by Trump’s family.

“The Committee is encouraged by reports that the Department is now conducting an internal review of its policies, but that is not enough,” Cummings and Raskin said in a letter to Defense Secretary Mark Esper. “In order to stop contributing to any further constitutional violations, the Department should immediately implement a policy against taxpayer funds going to any Trump-related properties or businesses.”

Cummings and Raskin said such spending amounts to an “apparent violation of the Domestic Emoluments Clause of the Constitution,” which prohibits presidents from enriching themselves while in office.

In a statement Sunday, Brig. Gen. Edward Thomas Jr., an Air Force spokesman, said there was no initial indication of wrongdoing related to the stopovers in Scotland but acknowledged that such stays “might be allowable but not advisable.” The Air Force said room rates at Trump’s property did not exceed the allowable per diem.

The letter from Cummings and Raskin cited a Politico report that more than 50 Air Force service members have stayed at Turnberry on at least four occasions, all of them shuttling between the United States and the Middle East.

The letter said the Defense Department had yet to produce any documents in response to the committee’s initial request in June “without any legitimate explanation.”

“If the Department does not begin producing the requested documents this week, the Committee will be forced to consider alternative measures to compel compliance, including a subpoena,” Cummings and Raskin wrote.

In the letter, the two Democrats also took issue with Trump’s contention in a tweet Monday that he has “nothing to do with” the Glasgow Prestwick Airport.

The letter cited reports that Trump and his company “have had significant, direct and detailed interactions with Prestwick Airport for years,” including efforts to boost air traffic there.

 



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