Air Force defends stopover: Trump's Scotland hotel was the cheapest around

US President Donald Trump drives a golf buggy on his golf course at the Trump Turnberry resort in June 2019

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An Air Force spokesman told The New York Times in a statement Saturday that it's common for military flights to stop in Scotland. But it's another example of Trump's company earning money from taxpayer dollars, which has led some government watchdogs to argue the arrangement breaches ethical norms and potentially violates a clause of the US Constitution.

"As our aircrews serve on these global airlift missions, they follow strict guidelines on contracting for hotel accommodations and all expenditures of taxpayer dollars", Thomas said.

Brig. Gen. Edward W. Thomas, the Air Force's director of public affairs, told Politico that military branch had "used the closest available and least expensive accommodations to the airfield within the crews' allowable hotel rates" when its crew stopped in Scotland.

"As our aircrews serve on these global airlift missions, they follow strict guidelines on contracting for hotel accommodations and all expenditures of taxpayer dollars", Brig Gen Edward Thomas wrote. According to a letter the panel sent to the Pentagon in June, the military has spent $11 million on fuel at the Prestwick Airport-the closest airport to Trump Turnberry-since October 2017, fuel that would be cheaper if purchased at a us military base.

For instance, the Trump property had a per diem rate of $US136, compared to the nearby Marriott's $US161. The Air Force also said it schedules stopovers based on such factors as leg distance and contract fuel availability.

The issue of spending on Trump resorts also came up earlier this week when Secret Service veterans pressed Vice President Mike Pence about his decision to stay at a Trump's property in Doonbeg, Ireland, which was hundreds of miles away from his meeting in Dublin.

This investigation dovetails with the committee's larger review of potential conflicts of interest between Trump's role as president and his businesses, particularly when it relates to foreign governments and possible violations of the emoluments clause of the U.S. Constitution, which says a U.S. president can not take money or gifts from a foreign leader or government. The crew was back in Alaska on March 19.

Despite the probe into possible irregularities, some cargo and tanker pilots were quick to note that the landings at Prestwick were not unusual.

"Prestwick is a very, very common stopover and crews only stay at places at or under the lodging rate. sometimes Turnberry is under the rate, and I wouldn't blame a crew for staying there", added a former active-duty KC-135 pilot who's made a few stops to Prestwick. The airport has provided discounts and free rounds of golf to associates of the U.S. Army, the letter says, mentioning that the Guardian.

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