Trump’s 'shameless and corrupt' tweet about Scottish golf course an attempt to pressure UK, experts say

President 'explicitly tying his personal business interests to American diplomacy', Brian Klaas says

Tom Embury-Dennis@tomemburyd
Monday 04 March 2019 15:22
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Donald Trump’s “shameless, corrupt and repugnant” tweet about his Scottish golf course was likely an attempt to pressure the UK, lawyers and experts have said.

The US president on Saturday shared a tweet by the Trump Organization which quoted praise of its own Trump International Golf Club Scotland in Aberdeenshire.

Alongside the post, Mr Trump wrote: “Very proud of perhaps the greatest golf course anywhere in the world. Also, furthers U.K. relationship!”

The tweet came just two days after judges ruled Mr Trump’s golf club must pay the Scottish government's legal costs following a two-year court battle between the pair over a major North Sea wind power development.

Mr Trump argued the project would spoil the view from his golf course, but the Supreme Court in 2015 ruled against the billionaire, and last summer 11 turbines off the Aberdeenshire coast began generating power.

Brian Klaas, a political scientist at University College London, told The Independent the timing of the tweet was suspicious, and that Mr Trump appeared to be “explicitly tying his personal business interests to American diplomacy”.

“His tweet suggested that helping his golf course — and by extension, his own financial interests — would be good for the Special Relationship,” Mr Klaas said, in reference to the so-called close diplomatic ties between the US and UK.

“That tweet came shortly after Trump received an unfavourable ruling about his golf course, making the timing even more suspect.”

Asked if Mr Trump’s tweet could be a direct response to the Court of Session ruling over legal fees, Mr Klaas said: “I think that it’s hard to explain why he would tweet about that specific golf club on that specific day otherwise.”

Former White House ethics chief, Walter Shaub, branded Mr Trump’s tweet “shameless, corrupt and repugnant presidential profiteering” and “an invitation to graft”.

“His statement is meaningless unless he wants foreign governments to know the key to a good relationship with America is to further its President’s personal interests,” Mr Shaub tweeted.

Susan Simpson, a lawyer at Volkov Law Group who specialises in corruption, said Mr Trump’s “barely implicit” message was that, “If the UK takes a position that is adverse to my golf course, US foreign policy will take a position that is adverse to the UK".

Mr Trump’s Aberdeen golf course – opened in 2012 - was his organisation’s first in Europe and designed to take advantage of wealthy customers from oil companies based in the region.

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But figures show the course has lost money each year, and Mr Trump has been forced to spend more than $69m (£52m) of his own cash to keep it afloat.

The president’s more famous Scottish course, in Turnberry, lost $4.5m (£3.5m) in 2017 – the fourth consecutive year it failed to make a profit.

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