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Air Force disputes Alaska crew favored Trump Scottish hotel

Updated September 8, 2019 - 3:58 pm

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Military officials are disputing a report that claims a joint Air Force and Alaska Air National Guard unit on a routine mission to Kuwait went miles out of their way to spend the night at a resort in Scotland owned by President Donald Trump.

Politico first reported that the military transport that took off from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage in March spent the night at the Turnberry resort, about 50 miles outside Glasgow.

The disclosure comes as Trump last week denied he had any role in Vice President Mike Pence booking a room at a Trump resort in Ireland or Attorney General William Barr booking at holiday party at a Trump property in Washington, D.C., actions which Democrats and critics claim enrich the president at taxpayer’s expense.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has opened an investigation into the matter.

Military flights making stopovers in Scotland are not unusual, and there were no rooms closer to the airport, an Air Force spokesman said Saturday in an emailed statement to The Associated Press.

“As our aircrews serve on these international airlift missions, they follow strict guidelines on contracting for hotel accommodations and all expenditures of taxpayer dollars,” Brig Gen Edward Thomas wrote. “In this case, they made reservations through the Defense Travel System and used the closest available and least expensive accommodations to the airfield within the crews’ allowable hotel rates.”

The routine airlift mission was on a C-17 shared by the Air Force and the Alaska Air National Guard at the Anchorage base. The crew on this flight consisted of seven active-duty Air Force and Alaska Air National Guard members.

The flight took off from Anchorage on March 13, making stops at bases in Nevada and New Hampshire before going to Glasgow Prestwick Airport and eventually Ali Al Salem base in Kuwait. The crew was back in Alaska on March 19.

A local government contractor made the Scotland reservations, and indicated there was not a room closer to the airport than the Trump resort, 54 miles away, Thomas said.

That, Thomas said, was not a remarkable distance to travel to receive the government rate for the rooms.

He said the Trump resort had rooms for $136 a night, cheaper than a Marriott, which charged $161 a night. However, he said both are under the per diem rate of $166.

“While we are still reviewing the trip records, we have found nothing that falls outside the guidelines associated with selecting stopover airports on travel routes and hotel accommodations for crew rest,” said Thomas, the director of Air Force Public Affairs.

He said records are being reviewed, but it appears the crew stayed at a Marriott near Glasgow on its return trip to Alaska.

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