By Jon Dougherty
(NationalSentinel) A deal signed by the Air Force to refuel its aircraft near a Trump hotel property in Scotland was not made during President Donald Trump’s tenure, as some Democrats and political opponents suggested this week, but was actually agreed to during the latter months of the Obama administration.
The Air Force has been increasingly using the Glasgow Prestwick Airport in Scotland as a refueling point, with many crews staying overnight in the vicinity. Some Air Force crew have been staying at Trump Turnberry, a nearby resort, which has drawn the attention of the president’s critics in the media, in Congress, and among Air Force leaders.
However, as Politico reported Thursday, the deal with Prestwick was inked “in the waning months of the Obama administration.”
The New York Times also noted on Thursday that “there is little evidence of a systematic scheme to enrich Mr. Trump” while also reporting that the decision by the Pentagon to utilize the airport was made during the Obama administration.
The Air Force said on Thursday that Air Force crews stayed overnight 659 times in the vicinity of the airport and about 6 percent of those crews, or roughly 40, stayed at the Trump Turnberry.
“As a practice, we generally send aircrews to the closest, most suitable accommodations within the government hotel rate. The review also indicated that about 75 percent of the crews stayed in the immediate vicinity of the airfield and 18 percent stayed in Glasgow,” the service branch said.
“To me, it was honestly just a hotel, a place to sleep,” Nathan Wendzel, 33, a helicopter pilot who spent a night at the Trump Turnberry last September with about 35 other members of his Iowa National Guard unit, told the Times. “It is better than a tent with no air conditioning.”
Brig. Gen. Edward Thomas, the Air Force’s top spokesman, said earlier last week that air crews staying near the airport “adhered to all guidance and procedures” but that the service was nevertheless conducting a review because “we understand that U.S. Service members lodging at higher-end accommodations, even if within government rates, might be allowable but not advisable.”
Air Force officials said that crews began stopping over at Prestwick in 2015, or roughly two years before President Trump took office.
The Trump property was $136 a night, coming under the Mariott property nearby, which would have been $161 a night, Thomas noted. Both hotel rates were under the government per diem of $166 a night.
The normal Trump hotel rate is $300 a night, however, which indicates that Air Force personnel were receiving a discount to stay there.
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