The Trump Organization charged taxpayers for undisclosed stays and luxury car rentals at his foreign golf resorts

Donald Trump golfing at Trump International Golf Links course in Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Donald Trump golfing at Trump International Golf Links course in Aberdeenshire, Scotland

  • US taxpayers paid thousands of dollars to Donald Trump’s resorts in Ireland and Scotland in 2017, during previously undisclosed visits.
  • The Scotsman reported on expenses showing taxpayers were charged for Secret Service accommodation during stays by Trump’s son Eric.
  • The receipts provide further evidence of how the former president’s family benefited from his time in office.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

US taxpayers paid Donald Trump’s resorts in Ireland and Scotland in 2017 for previously undisclosed visits by his family and the Secret Service, The Scotsman reported, providing further evidence of how the former president’s family benefited from his time in office.

The Scotsman’s report was based on invoices and spending records obtained by American Oversight, a Washington-based ethics watchdog.

They showed previously undisclosed expenses which included a $7,500 invoice from Trump’s Turnberry resort in Scotland dated August 14, 2017.

It is unclear who visited Turnberry that month, The Scotsman reported, but Trump’s son Eric had flown to Scotland the previous month to play golf at his father’s resorts.

The newly disclosed expenses included a $7,365 invoice from Trump’s Doonbeg resort in Ireland dated July 22 and 23, 2017 to cover the cost of Secret Service accommodation. There was another $9,300 invoice from the Doonbeg resort to cover Secret Service accommodation in April 2017 during a separate trip by Eric.

The records also show US taxpayers were charged thousands of dollars for luxury car rentals during Eric Trump’s visit.

The executive director of American Oversight, Austin Evers, told the Scotsman: “No-one objects to the Trump family receiving Secret Service protection, but every time they charge their security detail to stay at a Trump hotel, thousands of taxpayer dollars line their pockets.”

The latest disclosures represent a wider pattern of Trump’s record of charging taxpayers for stays at his own resorts during his time in office.

Trump’s properties reportedly raked in at least $8.1 million from US taxpayers since he took office in January 2017. The president’s Mar-A-Lago golf club even charged taxpayers $3 for a glass of water when Trump hosted former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at his Florida resort.

Trump faced criticism when Politico reported that members of the US Air Force made a stop at his Turnberry resort and stayed there for days, which the report said raised “the possibility that the military has helped keep Trump’s Turnberry resort afloat.”

The Secret Service spent more than $1 million alone on stays at Trump-owned resorts during his presidency, the Washington Post reported.

Insider contacted the Trump Organization for comment.

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A remote British island is now 100% vaccinated after all 45 adult residents got their second dose

Fair Isle
All adult inhabitants of the tiny island of Fair Isle, off the northern coast of Scotland, received a second dose of AstraZeneca vaccine.

  • The tiny remote island of Fair Isle received its second doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine this week.
  • All 45 adults of the island were fully vaccinated in one go. The three remaining children will have to wait.
  • The tiny island, which is just 2.9 square miles, is eager to see tourists again.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

All adults of the 48-strong population of a tiny remote island in the UK have been fully vaccinated, and are eagerly awaiting the return of tourists, the BBC reported.

All 45 people over the age of 18 on the island off the Northern coast of Scotland got a second doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine this week, the the Press and Journal newspaper reported.

The remaining 3 children will have to wait for vaccination to be expanded to younger populations.

Getting the Pfizer vaccine to the tiny island would have been a logistical nightmare, BBC Scotland’s Jen Stout reported. The shot, which until recently required ultra-low storage temperatures, would have been very difficult to get on the tiny airplanes and boats that go to the windy territory, part of the Shetland Islands.

The AstraZeneca vaccine, however, could be transported in two-seater airplane in a cold box.

The whole second-dose vaccination programme took just one morning, the Press and Journal reported.

“Fair Isle was one of those areas in the UK where there were no confirmed Covid cases so we thought it was really important to continue that as a statistic moving forward,” the director of health and community care in the area told BBC radio Scotland’s “Good Morning Scotland.”

Fair Isle is the most remote inhabited part of the United Kingdom. It is not connected to the main electricity grid, and has only had reliable electricity since 2018, which comes from a system of solar panels and wind turbines. It is 3 miles long and 1.5 miles wide.

Fair Isle map
Fair Isle, a tiny island off the coast of Northern Scotland, is smaller than the size of two football fields.

The island is know for its observatory, which watches migratory birds, and its particular style of woolen sweaters.

Alex Penn, Assistant Warden at the Fair Isle Bird observatory, snapped a picture of the tiny island on Monday:

The oldest inhabitant of the island, John Best, said the island feels like “one of the safest places in the country” in the pandemic, the BBC reported.

The islanders are hoping this could mean a lifting of restrictions, as they are looking forward to getting back to welcoming people, the BBC said.

One nurse who administered the shots told said of the program that “It’s been great”.

“The boat managed to come in yesterday so we had a full shop and now we have had our second vaccinations, the sun is out and the lambs are coming,” Kirstin Robson told Good Morning Scotland.

Fair Isle sweater
A couple with a traditional Fair Isle pattern sweater on a board, Fair Isle, Shetland Islands, Scotland, June 1970.

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Trump’s Scottish golf course trashed the environment and locals fear his new one will do even more damage

trump scotland
  • EXCLUSIVE: The Trump Organization’s plan to build another golf course in Scotland could wreck the local environment, environmentalists and locals fear.
  • Officials in Scotland concluded last year that Trump’s existing course had “destroyed” the protected sand dune system there.
  • Trump’s new course threatens to do even more damage, some experts fear.
  • “What they’ve done is they’ve just killed it as a natural environment,” Bob Ward of the London School of Economics told Insider.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Before he became president, Donald Trump was best known in Scotland as the man who pushed through the construction of a hugely controversial golf course in the face of fierce opposition from locals and conservationists.

The result was Trump International Golf Links, a sprawling course set among the spectacular sand dunes at the Menie Estate along the coastline of Balmedie, Aberdeenshire.

The former president is very attached to the course: He arranged a high-profile photo-op there as a presidential candidate in 2016 and there were even rumors that he would fly there in January to avoid President Joe Biden’s inauguration.

However, the resort has done huge damage to local habitats, which lost their protected status due to the irreversible damage the course caused.

And locals and conservationists now say the Trump Organization’s latest plan to build a second 18-hole golf course – which was approved by Aberdeenshire Council last year – will cause even more environmental destruction to the area than the existing course already has.

Screenshot 2021 03 19 at 15.59.01
The rough site of Trump’s new golf course in Scotland is marked in red. The site of the area which lost its conservation designation as a result of the existing course is marked in green.

Locals believe they have good reason to be worried.

The sand dunes at the existing Trump International course last year lost their status as a specially designated conservation site after officials at NatureScot, a watchdog, concluded that Trump’s golf course had “destroyed” the sand dune system, causing permanent habitat loss.

The damage was so bad that officials decided there was no point in giving that part of the conservation area special scientific status any longer.

“Sand dunes are a dynamic system, they’re wind-driven, so they go backwards and forwards,” said Bob Ward, policy and communications director at the Grantham Research Institute on climate change and the environment at LSE.

“Building a golf course on top means you can’t have the dunes moving around, so they have to stabilize them. So they’ve essentially planted vegetation on top of them and put physical constraints on them so the dunes can’t move and it’s not a dynamic system anymore

“The argument the Trump International Golf Links used was that they’d protected them by stabilizing them. But essentially what they’ve done is they’ve just killed it as a natural environment.”

“Sand dunes as a habitat are rarer than rainforests,” said Guy Ingerson, a Green politician who is standing in Aberdeen Central in Scotland’s May elections.

“They’re one of the world’s fastest-disappearing habitats. So to lose such a large area of coastal sand dunes like this has been really devastating as an environmental issue up here.”

trump scotland 2

Trump’s second course will adjoin the existing one and will be built on a different area of sand dunes that remain part of the Site of Special Scientific Interest. There are fears that those, too, will now be destroyed, meaning the entire sand dune system will eventually be destroyed – or “stabilized.”

“I think it will lead eventually to further damage to all of the sand dunes,” said the LSE’s Bob Ward.

“There will be nothing left of the natural dune system. At the moment if you go there, you go along the shoreline and there’s a very large dune bank that protects the inland including the golf course. And once you go inland, there was this whole dune system. But part of it has already been destroyed by the golf course – and now a bigger area is going to be affected by this second golf course. The whole thing is going to be unrecognizable.”

The council said the new course “will contribute towards the significant social and economic benefits expected to be delivered by the wider development proposals within the Menie estate.”

But the current course has posted losses of over $1 million a year and locals say the economic benefits promised by the Trump Organisation when they built the first course have never materialized.

Guy Ingerson said: “Mr Trump and his organization promised the world: Thousands of jobs, lots of new amenities for the local community. That hasn’t happened. So why are we allowing him to create a new golf course when he hasn’t delivered on the existing promises made?”

The Trump Organization did not respond to a request for comment.

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A coronavirus variant with a mutation which ‘likely helps it escape’ antibodies is already in at least 11 countries, including the US

A scientist works on Covid-19 samples to find variations of the virus, at the Croix-Rousse hospital laboratory in Lyon, central eastern France, on January 14, 2021.
A scientist works on COVID-19 samples to find variations of the virus.

  • A new variant of the coronavirus has been reported in the US, UK, and 9 other countries.
  • One of its mutations could help it escape neutralizing antibodies, one expert said. 
  • Mutations in the virus are one of the biggest obstacles to ending the pandemic.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

A new variant with three “mutations of biological significance” has been detected in 11 countries so far, according to a new academic report.

This new variant, B.1.525, has been found on several continents, academics at the University of Edinburgh noted in an assessment of the variant published on Monday.

Here is the list of countries where it has been found:

  • The US
  • Canada
  • Denmark
  • The UK
  • France
  • Belgium
  • Spain
  • Nigeria
  • Ghana
  • Jordan
  • Australia

Countries differ widely in their ability to detect different variants, and it is possible the variant is in more places which have yet to notice it.

This newly-reported variant carries the E484K mutation.

This mutation was also found in the B.1.1.7 variant that originally was detected in the UK, and the B.1.351 and B.1.1.28 variants that emerged from South Africa and Brazil respectively.

The fear is that this mutation could help the vaccine escape from neutralizing antibodies

Professor Ravi Gupta, a clinical microbiology expert from the University of Cambridge, said that apart from the E484K, the variant also carries another mutation “that likely helps it escape from our antibodies”, The Irish Times reported

The variant carries two other mutations that are reported to have “biological significance” the report from Scotland said. These are called Q677H and F888L.

The reason why the variant is already found in so many countries is that it has been around for some time. The data the scientists are analyzing comes from samples collected earlier on.

The earliest sample in which they have detected this variant dates back to December 15, 2020. 

More variants are appearing all over the world. Many of them do not significantly change how the virus behaves.

But some are potentially dangerous. They can make the virus more contagious and could also make it more lethal or better at escaping existing vaccines.

It takes time to fully research new variants, so early conclusions about what changes a variant brings are often tentative.

Seven new variants that could potentially be more contagious have been reported in the US, Insider’s Sarah Al-Arshani reported this week

Another variant of concern was identified in Uganda on Friday, Insider’s Dr. Catherine Schuster-Bruce reported

Read more: A bar owner found a way to save money on employee COVID tests – and customers are picking up the tab

Dr Simon Clarke, an expert in cellular microbiology from the University of Reading, said “We don’t yet know how well this variant will spread, but if it is successful it can be presumed that immunity from any vaccine or previous infection will be blunted”, The Guardian reported

The spread of these new variants could mean that the coronavirus pandemic could be here to stay, according to a feature from Insider’s Andrew Dunn, Aria Bendix, and Hilary Brueck.

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White House says Trump has no plans to leave for Scotland the day before Biden’s inauguration

Trump Scotland
President Donald Trump.

  • A plane that President Donald Trump sometimes uses is scheduled to land in Scotland the day before Joe Biden’s inauguration, a Scottish newspaper reported.
  • The Sunday Post reported that the US military plane is scheduled to land at Prestwick Airport, near Trump’s Turnberry golf resort, on January 19.
  • Multiple reports have suggested that Trump is planning to skip Biden’s inauguration to host a rival, attention-grabbing event at the same time.
  • However, a White House spokesman, Judd Deere, told Insider the president has “no plans” to visit Scotland adding: “anonymous sources who claim to know what the President is or is not considering have no idea. When President Trump has an announcement about his plans for Jan. 20 he will let you know.”
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The White House has denied that President Donald Trump will fly to Scotland for Joe Biden’s inauguration following a report that a US military plane the president sometimes uses is scheduled to land in the country the day before the event.

The Sunday Post, a weekly Scottish newspaper, reported that a US military Boeing 757 was scheduled to land at Prestwick Airport – near the president’s Turnberry golf resort – on January 19, one day before Biden’s inauguration in Washington, DC. The report fueled speculation that the president plans to leave the US for his luxury Scottish golf resort rather than attend Biden’s inauguration.

While White House spokesperson Judd Deere initially said Trump was not ready to announce his plans for January 20, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany later told Business Insider: “This is not accurate. President Trump has no plans to travel to Scotland.”

McEnany’s denial on Tuesday afternoon came after Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said that President Trump would not be permitted to visit the country because COVID-19 restrictions prevent non-essential travel there.

“We are not allowing people to come into Scotland, and that would apply to him just as it applies to anybody else,” Sturgeon told Scottish reporters on Tuesday. “And coming in to play golf is not what I would consider to be an essential purpose.”

The president has used the plane on previous trips abroad, though a source at the airport told the newspaper it is more frequently used by the vice president or the first lady.

A White House spokesman, Judd Deere, told Business Insider on Tuesday morning: “Anonymous sources who claim to know what the President is or is not considering have no idea. When President Trump has an announcement about his plans for Jan. 20 he will let you know.”

Trump visited his Turnberry resort as part of a wider European trip in 2018.

Sources at Prestwick Airport told The Post that US surveillance aircraft had flown above Turnberry in recent weeks, adding to speculation about a presidential visit.

Reports have suggested that Trump, who has refused to acknowledge Biden’s election victory and has claimed without evidence that the election was rigged against him, is planning to skip Biden’s inauguration.

Even if he does not travel to Scotland,  he could be planning attempt to host a rival, attention-grabbing event at the same time. That could complicate several things, including the transfer of the so-called nuclear football, a suitcase giving the president the means to conduct a nuclear strike.

Axios reported in December that Trump was considering a plan to fly in Air Force One to Florida, then address supporters at a rally held at the same time as Biden’s inauguration.

And NBC News reported that Trump was considering announcing a presidential run in 2024 on Inauguration Day.

Prestwick Airport did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.

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