Congressional investigators have threatened to subpoena the Trump Administration over documents related to military lodging at the Turnberry golf resort in Scotland.
In a sternly-worded letter authored by staff for Representative Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and addressed to Secretary of Defense Dr. Mark T. Esper, the House Oversight Committee is reiterating “a request originally made several months ago” regarding the housing of military servicemembers at the golf course and hotel owned by President Donald Trump–as well as the use of public funds “at a nearby commercial airport owned by the Scottish government.”
The eight-page document–dated September 10 and uploaded to the House Oversight Committee website on Tuesday morning–also suggests the housing of U.S. military personnel at President Trump’s property in Scotland constitutes an “apparent violation of the Domestic Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution.”
The letter cites several instances of then-civilian Trump bragging about his business relationship with the Glasgow Prestwick Airport–as well as a lengthy email from a former Trump Organization executive explaining the critical nature of the Turnberry-Prestwick partnership to the overall Trump family business.
Additionally, the letter cites President Trump’s continued promotion of Turnberry–after assuming office–and use of Prestwick Airport.
To date, nearly $20 million has been spent by the U.S. government at Turbnerry and Prestwick, according to the congressional letter.
In typical fashion, however, House Democrats appear somewhat timid and reticent about making any outright charges of corruption, wrongdoing or self-dealing. For example, the Democrats’ letter threads the line of re-upping their months-old call for the Department of Defense (DOD) to produce responsive documents related to the ongoing housing-and-fueling scandal–without explicitly criticizing the military. In fact, the letter even goes out of its way to laud the military brass:
The Committee is encouraged by reports that the [DOD] is now conducting an internal review of its policies, but that is not enough. The [DOD] has confirmed that its servicemembers stayed at Turnberry, but argued that it was “the closest available and least expensive accommodations to the airfield.” The [DOD] also claimed that it has “increasingly leveraged Prestwick as a stopover location” and stated that in the first eight months of this year, [DOD] aircraft made 259 stops–220 of which were required overnight crew stays. By comparison, aircraft crews made only 40 overnight stays in 2015.
Additionally, House Democrats appear fearful and unwilling to chastise or accuse President Trump using their own voices.
The letter sort of leans into the suggestion that Trump’s continued use and promotion of the two Scottish properties–in which his own business benefits substantially–amounts to an unconstitutional abuse of power. But for the heavy lifting on that front, Cummings’ office has supplied a quotation from former White House ethics attorney Walter Shaub.
“This is Trump’s most explicit commingling of personal interests and public office to date,” the quotation from Shaub begins, “This is shameless, corrupt and repugnant presidential profiteering. This is an invitation to graft.”
What’s more, it appears that President Trump’s Scottish self-dealing concerns are actually not as new as the news cycle is making them out to be.
The letter, co-signed by Representative Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) on behalf of the House Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, reveals that House Democrats were aware of the Pictish housing-and-fueling controversy earlier this summer and that congressional investigators originally made their request for the documents related to that decision-making process on June 21, 2019.
Several months later, House Democrats are now threatening to force compliance via subpoena.
“[T]he Committee requests that the Department produce all of the documents first requested on June 21, 2019,” the letter concludes. “The Committee also requests that the Department inform the Committee by this Friday whether it will do so voluntarily or will require a subpoena.”
[image via via Tasos Katopodis_Getty Images]