Scrutiny of the Air Force flying into Prestwick and staying at Donald Trump’s Turnberry resort has increased dramatically since Politico broke the news. While many military leaders are trying to downplay this activity, Politico reports that such stays have steadily increased since Trump took office. In fact, the use of Prestwick has nearly tripled while overnight stays have increased more than five-fold, and the Air Force has acknowledged those numbers.
Politico’s investigation has revealed that from 2015 to 2019, aircraft have stopped at Prestwick 936 times. Of those 936 stops, military personnel have stayed overnight 659 times, and Politico shows that the stops have steadily increased each year. In 2015, there were 95 stops and 40 overnight stays. That number grew dramatically in 2016 to 145 stops and 75 stays, and the numbers continue to grow. In 2017, there were 180 stops and 116 overnight stays, 257 stops and 208 stays in 2018, and so far this year (through August) there have been 259 stops and 220 overnight stays. Coincidence? Not likely. While officials claim no evidence of wrongdoing, Lt. General Jon Thomas said that the “trust and confidence of the American people and Congress is critically important,” which means they know this isn’t right.
Meanwhile, Donald Trump vehemently denies any knowledge of the Air Force’s decision to stay at Turnberry and further denied that he had anything to do with Pence staying at Doonbeg in Ireland. Never mind that the resort is on the complete opposite side of Ireland from Dublin. The House obviously has a problem with military personnel and other government officials spending money at Trump’s resorts, and you should as well. Even if nothing untoward is going on, the president of the United States should at least give the perception of being above board in all of his actions.
This country has never seen a “president” like Trump, and his history of making poor business decisions gives him good reason to try to shore up his properties while he holds office. This activity obviously raises issues of propriety with respect to the Emoluments Clause, as well as the president directing people to his resorts. Though Pence’s chief of staff Marc Short initially said that Trump “suggested” Pence stay at Doonbeg, he’s now changing his tune by saying that it was Pence’s office that made the decision, and Trump “had nothing to do with it.” Sorry, but this stinks to high heaven. Why would he say that Trump “suggested” it earlier only to change his story after Trump began to grumble? Trump has made no secret of directing dignitaries to his properties, like his suggestion that the G7 meet at his Doral resort.
The American people are not stupid. Well, some aren’t, and for those who aren’t, this looks awfully suspect. If there were truly nothing to all of this, why doesn’t Trump direct these people elsewhere? Why continue to line his pockets with taxpayer dollars? The answer is blatantly obvious: Trump is trying to make as much money as he can before his time is over, though there’s little point. He will simply lose it, as he has with all of the other money he has squandered over the years. This “presidency” cannot end soon enough.
Shirley is a former entertainment writer and has worked in the legal field for over 25 years