Trump Navy chief accused of spending $2m in taxpayers money on travel in 8 months despite covid

Figures and documents reveal excessive foreign outings for former official, in final eight months in office

Gino Spocchia
Thursday 06 May 2021 15:41

Donald Trump denies knowing navy secretary who quit over controversy

Former US Navy secretary Kenneth Braithwaite allegedly travelled on 22 flights at a cost of $2.3m (£1.7m) in the final months of Donald Trump’s administration.

According to findings by USA Today, few officials in the former president’s administration were allowed to travel because of Covid, but not the navy secretary.

After being sworn in by Mr Trump in May of last year, Mr Braithwaite apparently travelled to far flung destinations including the United Kingdom, Norway, Bahrain and India.

He is also said to have travelled to the tiny atoll of Wake Island, where there are no US marines or sailors stationed, in the week before Joe Biden’s inauguration.

According to USA Today, the cost of Mr Braithwaite’s final flight was £232,000, with the Trump official being issued with a rare waiver from defence officials.

The aircraft for that flight, a Gulfstream 550 business jet, costs about $8,000 per hour to operate with a crew of four – all at the cost of American taxpayers, USA Today reported.

During the last trip to Wake Island, Mr Braithwaite recorded a farewell video for his final days in office. It followed 21 foreign trips totalling almost $2.3m.

Two officials from the defence department told USA Today that travel for officials to both foreign and domestic locations were scaled back because of Covid, but not for a few senior Trump officials.

The former president’s defence secretary and then acting defence secretary, Mark Esper and Christopher Miller, took 15 trips in total, according to the report.

In a statement, Mr Braithwaite told USA Today that travelling was necessary to restore confidence in the navy – following the forced resignation of Thomas Modly after an outbreak of Covid among the crew of the USS Theodore Roosevelt.

"I am extremely proud of the record of accomplishments of Our Sailors and Marines during my tenure as Secretary,” wrote the former official, who added that it was "impossible to lead men and women deployed around the world from behind a desk in Washington."

The Independent has reached out to the US Department of Defense for comment on the findings.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments