As if Donald Trump didn’t have enough to worry about with the FBI raiding the home and office of his former attorney Rudy Giuliani, local prosecutors in New York and Georgia deep into investigations of his potential crimes, and social media platforms banishing him from their sites.
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Now it appears as if he’s facing additional trouble in Scotland, home to two of Trump’s golf resorts and the birthplace of his mother.
The former president has faced down Scottish authorities before when the country’s Green Party brought forward a motion in parliament calling for an “unexplained wealth order” to investigate whether laundered funds were used for Trump’s purchase of his Scottish properties.
That motion never passed parliamentary muster, but now union officials in Scotland are calling for an investigation of how Trump’s properties managed to receive as much as £575,000 (about $794,000 in US dollars) in COVID-19 relief aid during a two month period as part of a UK job retention program — £110,000 (around US$153,000) of which was claimed while Trump was still president — while still eliminating at least 66 jobs at his resorts in the country.
According to an article in the local newspaper The Scotsman:
“Union officials who railed against Trump Turnberry’s “all-out assault on jobs and conditions” during the pandemic described it as a “scandal” and have called for an investigation by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC).”
“The former director of the Office of Government Ethics under the Obama and Trump administrations said it was a “disgrace” that UK taxpayers were “propping up” Mr Trump’s business interests,” the newspaper wrote.
The British National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT) complained that the Trump Organisation was “hoovering up” public money while firing staff and making a “mockery” of a program designed to ensure employers keep their existing staff employed.
“It is clear to us that at the very least the principles of the job retention scheme appear to have been breached by the Trump Organisation and that should now be subjected to a detailed and forensic investigation by HMRC,” said RMT general secretary, Mick Cash.
“It’s a scandal and as we slowly emerge from lockdown, we are calling for any discarded staff to be re-engaged on decent pay and conditions, and for that same principle to be applied to new employees as well,” he added.
The Scotsman reports that Trump’s Turnberry resort received between £200,000 and £500,000, while his Aberdeenshire property received between £35,000 and £75,000 from a program that has been in place since March of last year. The reported payments only cover the period from December 2020 until the end of January 2021.
Adding insult to injury, since neither of Trump’s resorts has yet to turn a profit on paper, they haven’t had to pay any corporate taxes whatsoever.
“It’s appalling that Trump has been getting bailouts from the UK Government on one hand while handing out redundancy notices to workers with the other,” said Colin Smyth of the Scottish Labour Party.
“This is only the tip of the iceberg and his failing empire will have pocketed even bigger sums from the Scottish Government in rates relief, which has no conditions attached to it when it comes to job retention,” he added.
It’s not just UK politicians who are up in arms over the situation.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), the chairwoman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, pointed out that the Trump Organization’s acceptance of funding from foreign governments while its primary owner was president created “grave” problems under the emoluments clause of the Constitution, which prohibits a president from any profit, gain or advantage received directly or indirectly from foreign countries.
That concern was echoed by Walter Shaub, the former director of the US Office of Government Ethics, who told The Scotsman:
“This is another example of the US legal system failing to enforce the constitutional prohibition on a president’s receipt of emoluments.”
“It’s also concerning because it means a former US president is beholden to a foreign government, which may be less concerning with the UK than with other nations, but is concerning nonetheless.”
“From the UK perspective, I can’t imagine the citizenry there would be any more happy than a majority of US citizens were about tax dollars propping up an American president’s business interests. It’s a disgrace to the very concept of democracy,” Shaub continued.
It’s unclear whether the £575,000 figure published was the full extent of the money received from the UK government by the Trump Organization since when The Scotsman asked the Trump Organisation for comment and details of how much it had claimed via the job retention program since it was initiated last March, it did not respond.
Let’s hope that, unlike the last call for an investigation into the Trump Organization’s operation of its Scottish properties, this latest demand is actually followed through and Trump is held accountable for any violations of the law.
Original reporting by Martyn McLaughlin at The Scotsman.
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