Military

Air Force Concludes Investigation into Aircrew Trump Resort Stays

JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. — The U.S. Air Force has concluded an internal travel log investigation prompted by a C-17 Globemaster III stop at Scotland’s Glasgow Prestwick Airport earlier this year, and the airlift crews’ subsequent decision to stay at a Trump-owned property.

“The [investigation] will show that the policies or procedures we had in place for both using civil airfields and lodging, and the crews [decisions] aligned with [current] policy,” Gen. Maryanne Miller, head of Air Mobility Command, told Military.com Wednesday.

Miller, who signed off on the investigation this week, has submitted it to Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein and Acting Secretary Matt Donovan for additional review; the Air Force Inspector General will also review the report.

“If you look at Prestwick and you look at the rules for lodging that our crews abide by, 77% of the crews stayed right around there,” Miller said during an interview here. The Air Force reviewed records and travel vouchers between 2015 and 2019. Another 17% stayed near Glasgow, about 30 miles away; and 6% of other crews stayed at the Trump Turnberry Luxury Collection Resort, roughly 20 miles away, she said.

The breakdown is similar to what officials had already provided to lawmakers in recent weeks, AMC said.

“They rolled to Turnberry only because others weren’t available,” the general said. “Turnberry is not a first option. You end up rolling down [there] as a solution.”

Miller continued, “There was no violation of anything. There was nothing that was out of alignment with all of that; and we even looked at the perception side of things, and the crews just did exactly what they were supposed to do.”

The House Committee on Oversight and Reform recently began investigating U.S. military stopovers at Prestwick as part of a larger probe into military stays at Trump-owned properties.

Related: Air Force Defends C-17 Crew’s Stopover at Scotland Trump Resort

In March, a C-17 crew, consisting of seven active-duty and National Guard crew members from Alaska, stayed at Trump‘s Turnberry resort when en route to Kuwait; they only landed at Prestwick airport on the return trip to the U.S., according to the Air Force. But the stop in Scotland prompted the committee to investigate whether U.S. military stays have boosted Turnberry’s revenue.

An exchange between the Pentagon and lawmakers last month revealed the Defense Department has spent nearly $200,000 at Turnberry since Trump became president in 2017.

In a letter from the committee to Esper dated Sept. 18, lawmakers wrote that the Defense Department’s response to their query was “belated and deficient,” but added that the Pentagon revealed total military spending at Turnberry could be “more than $184,000” if calculating in unspecified charges unrelated to hotel rooms.

It remains unclear whether associated travel guidance will be updated via Congressional mandate, or if DoD will consider a military-wide policy.

Despite the initial findings of the service, lawmakers still want assurances the service will make ethical choices going forward.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut, announced Sept. 19 that he intends to place a hold on Barbara Barrett, Trump‘s Air Force secretary nominee, stalling a confirmation vote unless she assures the committee she will “implement a policy to prohibit Air Force spending at Trump-owned properties.”

During her confirmation hearing Sept. 12, Barrett demurred on whether she would issue a sweeping policy, but said any guidance should keep the appearance of propriety in mind.

Blumenthal then voiced his displeasure with her answers.

“Ambassador Barrett refused to provide a clear commitment to ending unnecessary Air Force spending at President Trump‘s lavish Scottish hotel. This is unacceptable, especially for a service secretary in an administration run by Grifter-in-Chief Donald Trump,” Blumenthal said days after her testimony.

The Senate is expected to vote on her confirmation following its two-week recess.

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to clarify the report review process.

— Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at oriana.pawlyk@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @oriana0214.

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