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Senator wants Air Force to ban airmen from staying at Trump resorts while flying missions
A Democratic lawmaker wants Air Force secretary nominee Barbara Barrett to prohibit airmen from staying at hotels owned by President Donald Trump during mission-related stopovers.
Politico reporters Natasha Bertrand and Bryan Bender first brought to light that Congress investigating why seven airmen stayed at Trump's Turnberry resort in March during a layover in Scotland.
On Sept. 9, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein and Acting Air Force Secretary Matthew Donovan ordered the head of Air Mobility Command to review of how it determines which airports and hotels to use for overnight stops.
"The National Defense Strategy requires the Department of Defense and its personnel to exercise efficiency and fiscal prudence when spending taxpayer dollars," Goldfein and Donovan wrote in their memo ordering the review. "Doing so is critical to our maintaining the trust and confidence of the American people and Congress."
During Barrett's confirmation hearing on Thursday, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said he had learned service members and Defense Department civilians spent $140,000 at Trump-branded properties in the first half of 2017 alone.
Barrett promised she would provide Blumenthal with a complete accounting of how much the Air Force has spent on lodging airmen at Trump resorts, but Blumenthal pressed her to go even further.
"Will you commit to using a service-wide policy to prohibit all Air Force personnel from using Trump properties for military travel whenever operationally feasible?" Blumenthal asked. "You and I discussed the appearance – wholly apart from the reality – of the president profiting from Department of Defense expenditures at properties he owns is absolutely unacceptable."
Barrett tried to avoid speaking about Trump resorts specifically by replying there need to be rules and regulations about travel dealing with the appearance of conflicts of interest that also "should not be specific to any particular owner."
Not satisfied, Blumenthal argued Trump is violating the Constitution's foreign and domestic emoluments clauses, which are meant to prevent the president and other government officials from accepting money and gifts intended to influence them. He repeated his request that Barrett issue an Air Force policy to, "Prevent the commander in chief from profiting from Department of Defense expenditures."
"I'll take a look at the rules and regulations on that and evaluate what policy should be issued," Barrett replied.
But Blumenthal issued a not-so-veiled warning to Barrett that she would have to do more than that to get his support for her nomination.
"Before your confirmation, I hope you will provide a clearer answer to this committee," he said.
The command chief of the 20th Fighter Wing at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, was removed from his position last month after his chain of command received evidence he disrespected his subordinates.
Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.
The "suck it up and drive on" mentality permeated our years in the U.S. military and often led us to delay getting both physical and mental health care. As veterans, we now understand that engaging in effective care enables us not just to survive but to thrive. Crucially, the path to mental wellness, like any serious journey, isn't accomplished in a day — and just because you need additional or recurring mental health care doesn't mean your initial treatment failed.
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Free Liberty.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has called on the security alliance's allies to maintain and strengthen their "unity," saying the organization is "the only guarantor of European and transatlantic security."
Stoltenberg told reporters on November 19 that NATO "has only grown stronger over the last 70 years" despite "differences" among the allies on issues such as trade, climate, the Iran nuclear deal, and the situation in northeastern Syria.
He was speaking at the alliance's headquarters in Brussels on the eve of a NATO foreign ministers meeting aimed at finalizing preparations for next month's summit in London.
WASHINGTON — More than $35 million of the roughly $400 million in aid to Ukraine that President Donald Trump delayed, sparking the impeachment inquiry, has not been released to the country, according to a Pentagon spending document obtained by the Los Angeles Times.
Instead, the defense funding for Ukraine remains in U.S. accounts, according to the document. It's not clear why the money hasn't been released, and members of Congress are demanding answers.