March 3, 2021

Sambaad Patra

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Rumored Trump Trip to Scottish Golf Course Ruled Out of Bounds – The New York Times

4 min read

LONDON — President Trump has not said where he plans to go after leaving the White House on Jan. 20. But the leader of Scotland made clear on Tuesday that Mr. Trump is not welcome in her country.

Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, said that under newly imposed virus restrictions, which prohibit all but essential travel, a visit by the president to one of his Scottish golf resorts, Trump Turnberry, would not be acceptable.

Rumors that Mr. Trump would head for Scotland flared after a Scottish paper reported that an American military version of a Boeing 757 — sometimes used by Mr. Trump — was scheduled to land at a nearby airport on Jan. 19, the day before Joseph R. Biden Jr. is to be sworn in as president.

“We are not allowing people to come into Scotland,” Ms. Sturgeon told reporters in Edinburgh, “and that would apply to him just as it applies to anybody else — and coming in to play golf is not what I would consider to be an essential purpose.”

A plain-spoken politician, Ms. Sturgeon said she did not know what Mr. Trump’s travel plans were, but that she hoped his immediate plan was to exit the White House. On Monday, she imposed a lockdown on Scotland, which, like England, is battling a surge in coronavirus cases because of a rapidly spreading new variant.

Under the new rules, people are required to stay at home and to work from there, where possible. Places of worship have been closed, and schools will operate by remote learning. Scotland has frequently moved faster and further than England to impose restrictions during the pandemic.

The White House initially declined to comment on the report, first published in Scotland’s Sunday Post paper, but later denied it.

“This is not accurate,” the press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, said on Tuesday. “President Trump has no plans to travel to Scotland.”

Two White House officials said that while there’s been almost no concrete discussion of what Mr. Trump will do on Jan. 20 because he is so focused on trying to overturn the election results, they do not believe he is considering Scotland.

Mr. Trump has owned the Trump Turnberry resort since 2014 and has long thought of it as an escape. In November 2016, according to Anthony Scaramucci, the former White House communications director, he had planned on flying to the resort if, as he then expected, he lost the presidential race to Hillary Clinton. In July 2018, Mr. Trump spent two days golfing there during a visit to Britain, before flying to Helsinki, Finland, to meet President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.

Turnberry is perhaps the most prestigious golf course in Mr. Trump’s portfolio. But Mr. Trump is highly unpopular in Britain and, even after a $150 million renovation, the course has consistently lost money, and the president has been determined to drive business to it.

Last summer, Turnberry came under scrutiny after the American ambassador to Britain, Robert Wood Johnson IV, told colleagues that Mr. Trump asked him to see if the British government could steer the British Open golf tournament to its links.

Mr. Johnson, a close friend of Mr. Trump, raised the issue with the then-secretary of state for Scotland, David Mundell, according to Lewis A. Lukens, a former deputy chief of mission at the embassy in London, who served as acting ambassador before Mr. Johnson’s arrival.

Turnberry also drew attention when the Pentagon acknowledged it had been sending troops to the resort while they were on overnight layovers at the nearby Glasgow Prestwick Airport, the same airport where the Scottish news media, citing an airport source, reported plans for the arrival of the government 757 on Jan. 19.

Mr. Trump has yet to concede the election to Mr. Biden and has said little about what he planned to do after he leaves the White House. He left his Palm Beach, Fla., estate, Mar-a-Lago, to return to the White House on New Year’s Eve, skipping the traditional party in the estate’s ballroom.

These days, Mr. Trump appears preoccupied trying to overturn the results of the election. He has offered little comment on the pandemic, focusing almost entirely on unfounded allegations of widespread vote-rigging.

In Scotland, however, Mr. Trump would find a country consumed with its battle against the virus. Ms. Sturgeon’s decision to impose a lockdown on Monday precipitated a decision by Prime Minister Boris Johnson later in the day to place all of England into a similar lockdown. Under the terms of limited self-government in the United Kingdom, the Scottish authorities are responsible for public health.

Unlike Mr. Johnson, whom Mr. Trump cultivated as a like-minded populist, Ms. Sturgeon, who is the leader of the Scottish National Party, has never made much of a secret of her views about Mr. Trump.

On the Friday after the election, when Mr. Biden appeared headed for victory, she said on Twitter, “The world can be a dark place at times just now — but today we are seeing a wee break in the clouds.”

Mark Landler reported from London and Maggie Haberman from New York.

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