PRESIDENT Donald Trump asked an envoy to see if the British government would help one of his golf courses secure an offer to host The Open, according to reports.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom Robert Wood Johnson told colleagues of Trump’s intentions in early 2018, according to The New York Times.
The newspaper reported on Tuesday that, according to three people with knowledge of the situation, Lewis Lukens, Johnson’s deputy, advised him not to raise the idea.
But Johnson brought up the matter with David Mundell, Scotland’s then-secretary of state, the report claims.
A statement from Downing Street said the U.S. diplomat “made no request of Mr. Mundell regarding the British Open or any other sporting event.”
Mundell said it would be “inappropriate” of him to publicly discuss his dealings with Johnson.
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The accusations surround Trump’s Scottish golf resort, Turnberry Resort (Ailsa), which was ranked number 10 in Golf.com’s world rankings list earlier this year.
In 2014, many local residents expressed their distaste at Trump’s purchase of the hotel and golf course, which the president subsequently renamed Trump Turnberry and revamped in 2016.
Since it first staged The Open in 1977, Turnberry has hosted the tournament four times – also in 1986, 1994, and 2009.
After Trump’s purchase, some questioned whether the famous course remained on the rota of considered locations.
Turnberry Resort, which has hosted The Open four times, has not staged the event since Trump purchased the resort in 2014[/caption]
In 2018, R&A Chief Executive Martin Slumbers confirmed in a conference call with journalists: “We have 10 courses that we look to stage the Open Championship on, of which Turnberry is one of them.”
As president, Trump is exempt from the federal conflict of interest law that prohibits government employees from taking part in “government matters that will affect your own personal financial interest.”
He is, however, not exempt from the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause, barring federal officials from taking gifts from foreign governments.
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Trump has faced numerous conflict of interests accusations in the past, with the president standing accused of using his public position for private business gain.
Last year, Trump announced that his golf resort Trump National Doral Miami would host the world’s Group of Seven conference.
After much pushback, Trump moved the event to Camp David before it was ultimately cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.