House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy on Tuesday defended military expenditures at President Donald Trump’s properties, arguing that hotels owned by the president are “just like any other hotel.”
“The president’s resorts are hotels that he owns. People are traveling. It’s just like any other hotel. I know people will look at it, I don’t know if that’s different than anything else,” he said at a press conference.
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McCarthy’s defense comes as the Air Force has launched a global review of its layover policy following a POLITICO report that crews have made multiple stays at Trump’s luxury seaside Turnberry golf resort in Scotland, an unusual stop for crews heading to and from the Middle East.
On Friday, POLITICO revealed that the House Oversight Committee began looking into the peculiar uptick in fueling stops at a small commercial airport servicing the hotel this April after an Air Force crew stayed overnight at Trump’s resort weeks earlier.
The Air Force has said that while they are reviewing the stays, they appeared to adhere to existing procedures. It said that in the future it will look to see whether it’s appropriate for its crews to stay at properties owned by the commander in chief.
Since then, POLITICO has uncovered at least four instances when Air Force crews stayed at Turnberry dating back to September 2018, totaling more than 60 service members who have stayed at the posh property.
Accusations that Trump’s properties are unfairly profiting off of his administration have dogged the president since he entered office in 2017. Trump still owns his business but placed his holdings in a trust designed to hold assets for his benefit. He can receive money from the trust at any time.
Ethics officials and lawmakers have raised concerns about foreign officials staying at Trump hotels, noting that Trump supporters and industry groups regularly hold events at Trump-owned locations. An analysis conducted by The Washington Post earlier this summer found that Trump’s properties had brought in $1.6 million in revenue from federal officials and Republicans who paid to be near the president.
McCarthy asserted Tuesday that shouldn’t be looked down upon either. “Is it different than if I go to eat or stay at a Marriott here or eat at the Trump?” he asked, adding: “The president isn’t asking me to, he’s competing in a private enterprise. It’s nothing he controls in that process, so if it’s in the process, they can stay there, yes.”
Trump is also considering hosting next year’s G-7 summit of world leaders at his Doral resort in Miami, a potential financial boon for the property, and has previously stayed at Turnberry property during an official visit to the United Kingdom.
Revenue increased by $3.1 million at Turnberry in 2018, which Trump visited in July of that year, according to Trump’s most recent personal financial disclosure forms.
Last week, Vice President Mike Pence raised eyebrows when he stayed at Trump’s resort in Doonbeg, Ireland, during a visit there, despite its location hundreds of miles away from his meetings in Dublin. The Oversight Committee is investigating that stay as well, and the president has denied playing any role in either situation.