Washington (CNN)Donald Trump entered a partnership with a Scottish airport in 2014, before launching his White House bid, that routinely sent flight crews to his Turnberry resort, The New York Times reported Monday.
It’s an arrangement that contrasts with the President’s recent claims that he knows “nothing” about Air Force crews staying at his resort amid growing criticism over the matter.Scottish government documents obtained by the Times show the Trump Organization made an arrangement with officials at Glasgow Prestwick Airport that routinely sends flight crews to Trump’s Turnberry resort. A decision by the Pentagon to increase its use of the airport to refuel Air Force flights in 2015 had local airport officials sending flight crews to hotels in the area for overnight stays, including Turnberry, according to the paper. Trump “played a direct role in setting up” the deal at the time, the Times said. The arrangement — and Trump’s recent denial of involvement in it — underlines another set of ethical questions around the President’s continued ownership of his business. Before his inauguration in January 2017, Trump pledged to transfer his business holdings to a trust run by his adult sons but refused to sell his ownership stake, a step that many ethics lawyers say is critical to avoid conflicts of interest.Read MoreOn Sunday, the Air Force ordered a review of all international layover stays after Politico first reported on visits by crew members to Trump’s Turnberry resort during refueling stops. The President sought to downplay the news Monday in a tweet denying any involvement in the controversy. “I know nothing about an Air Force plane landing at an airport (which I do not own and have nothing to do with) near Turnberry Resort (which I do own) in Scotland, and filling up with fuel, with the crew staying overnight at Turnberry (they have good taste!),” he said. “NOTHING TO DO WITH ME.”According to The Times, Air Force stops at Glasgow Prestwick rose from 180 in 2017 to 257 in 2018 and 259 already in 2019.The Air Force says the airfield’s increased usage derived from a flight directive issued to mobility crews in June 2017, which it said was “designed to increase efficiencies.” Air Force officials are now formally tallying the number of times military crews were sent to Trump Turnberry as a result, the Times said. The controversy over military personnel accommodations at Trump properties comes after Vice President Mike Pence’s recent decision to stay at Trump’s resort in Doonbeg, Ireland — hours away from his scheduled events in Dublin — led Democrats on the House Oversight and Judiciary committees to demand documents about how the decision was made.