Trump pressured an ambassador to see if he could get the British Open moved to his Scotland resort: report

Trump pressured an ambassador to see if he could get the British Open moved to his Scotland resort: report
Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead

During his 2016 campaign, Donald Trump insisted that if he was elected, there would be a strict separation between his business interests and the federal government. But Trump, as president, has continued to promote the interests of the Trump Organization. And according to New York Times reporters Maggie Haberman, Mark Landler and Lara Jakes, Trump tried to move the British Open to his resort in Scotland.

The journalists report that in 2018, Trump asked Robert Wood Johnson — his U.S. ambassador to Britain — to “see if the British government could help steer the world-famous and lucrative British Open golf tournament to the Trump Turnberry resort in Scotland, according to three people with knowledge of the episode.” Johnson’s deputy, Lewis A. Lukens, advised the ambassador not to do it and told him that Trump’s request was unethical. But Johnson, according to the Times reporters, felt pressured and brought up Trump’s idea when he spoke to David Mundell, Scotland's secretary of state.

“The episode left Mr. Lukens and other diplomats deeply unsettled,” Haberman, Landler and Jakes report. “Mr. Lukens, who served as the acting ambassador before Mr. Johnson arrived in November 2017, e-mailed officials at the State Department to tell them what had happened, colleagues said. A few months later, Mr. Johnson forced out Mr. Lukens, a career diplomat who had earlier served as ambassador to Senegal, shortly before his term was to end.”

The Times journalists note that Trump’s British Open request “was not the first time the president tried to steer business to one of his properties.” In 2019, they recall, “the White House chose the Trump National Doral resort in Miami as the site of a Group of 7 meeting. Mr. Trump backed off after it ignited a political storm, moving the meeting to Camp David before canceling it because of the coronavirus pandemic.”

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