State spent $234K on Trump trip to Turnberry

State spent $234K on Trump trip to Turnberry
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The State Department spent nearly $234,000 on President TrumpDonald John TrumpGOP senators balk at lengthy impeachment trial Warren goes local in race to build 2020 movement 2020 Democrats make play for veterans' votes MORE’s trip last July to his property in Scotland, according to a new report from the department’s inspector general.

Inspector General Steve Linick wrote in a July 22 letter to three Democratic lawmakers that the State Department spent $233,732.86 on overtime, hotels, rental cars and temporary duty costs for a trip to Trump Turnberry from July 14 to July 15, 2018, according to documents obtained by The Hill.

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That total does not include costs for which State was reimbursed by the Department of Homeland Security, the letter noted, and therefore reflects only a portion of the overall expense of the trip.

The State Department's response came almost one year after Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenWarren goes local in race to build 2020 movement 2020 Democrats make play for veterans' votes 2020 Dems put focus on stemming veteran suicides MORE (D-Mass.) and Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperOvernight Energy: BLM staff face choice of relocation or resignation as agency moves | Trump says he's 'very much into climate' | EPA rule would expand limits on scientific studies Democrats give Warren's 'Medicare for All' plan the cold shoulder Liz Cheney applauds Trump for pulling out of Paris climate agreement MORE (D-Del.) and Rep. Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsBrindisi, Lamb recommended for Armed Services, Transportation Committees Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, Elijah Cummings's widow, will run for his House seat Former NAACP president to run for Cummings's House seat MORE (D-Md.) requested an audit of the trip's costs from the agency.

“American taxpayers shouldn’t have to foot the bill for the President’s excessive and lavish golfing jaunts abroad,” an aide speaking on behalf of the three lawmakers said in a statement.

“The nearly $234,000 identified by the State Department Inspector General represents only a fraction of the total spending for just one weekend at the President’s Scottish golf course last year,” the aide added.

The lawmakers are still awaiting a similar accounting from the Department of Homeland Security detailing its own costs associated with the Turnberry trip. It's unclear when the report might be issued.

The Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General did not respond to a request for comment.

The White House did not respond to requests for comment.

Trump spent two days in July 2018 at his Scottish golf resort sandwiched between a stop in London to meet with then-Prime Minister Theresa MayTheresa Mary MayThe US needs a Secretary of Loneliness EU pushes Brexit deadline back to Jan. 31 Hold the Brexit Champagne MORE and a trip to Helsinki for a summit with Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinAmid impeachment hearings, it's worth remembering why Ukraine matters Trump says he'll meet with dictators if it helps the US Biden expresses shock that Trump considers attending Russia May Day event MORE.

The bulk of the State Department’s expenses for the Scotland trip came from $111,261.44 spent on hotels, according to the letter from Linick.

But just a small portion of that amount was spent on lodging for State Department employees at Trump Turnberry.

Linick wrote that the department spent $728 for three rooms for two nights to accommodate the U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom and his wife and the ambassador’s chief of protocol.

In response to a question from lawmakers about comparing the rate at Trump Turnberry to rates at other area hotels, the State Department found that the president's property was cheaper than other lodging options considered in Glasgow.

“The Trump Turnberry is situated outside Glasgow, and the rates offered here are very favourable to the Government,” the State Department said in reviewing the options. “The Trump Turnberry is therefore determined to offer a fair and reasonable rate to the Government.”

Beyond lodging, the State Department spent $42,406.54 on overtime costs, $28,625.27 on rental cars and $51,439.61 on temporary duty costs, according to the documents.

It’s not clear whether such costs are out of the ordinary for presidential travel.

The State Department's Office of Inspector General declined to comment beyond the report and therefore did not respond to questions about how the Trump Turnberry trip compared to other presidential travel or what the roughly $110,000 in additional hotel costs covered.

The State Department did not answer in its report lawmakers' questions about how much the Turnberry property profited from the stay, but the trip falls into a broader area of concern from Democrats who have accused the president of using his office to boost his brand.

Critics of the president have consistently raised ethics concerns with his tendency to periodically spend weekends away from the White House at his own properties, arguing it depletes resources and boosts the Trump brand.

The president last month stayed at Trump International Golf Links and Hotel Doonbeg in Ireland while abroad on a trip to the United Kingdom and France. The property tweeted — and then later deleted — two videos directly referencing the president’s stay, prompting criticism from ethics watchdogs over the blurred line between business and government interests.

A federal appeals court dismissed a lawsuit earlier this month filed by Maryland and the District of Columbia alleging that Trump is violating the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, which prohibits elected officials from receiving gifts or benefits from foreign governments without Congress’s approval. 

A separate emoluments lawsuit brought by Democratic lawmakers is still proceeding through the court system.

Emily Birnbaum contributed.

 

2018-07-31 Carper-Warren-Cummings Letter to State OIG by M Mali on Scribd

 

State IG Response to Carper Warren Cummings Re Turnberry by M Mali on Scribd