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Trump’s travel ban sidesteps his own European resorts

POLITICO logo POLITICO 3/12/2020 By Ryan Heath
Donald Trump et al. standing next to a person in a suit and tie: President Donald Trump at Trump Turnberry Resort in Scotland in 2016. © Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images President Donald Trump at Trump Turnberry Resort in Scotland in 2016.

President Donald Trump’s new European travel restrictions have a convenient side effect: They exempt nations where three Trump-owned golf resorts are located.

Trump is already under fire for visiting his properties in both countries as president, leading to U.S. taxpayer money being spent at his own firms. The president has been saddled with lawsuits and investigations throughout his term alleging that he’s violating the Constitution’s emoluments clause by accepting taxpayer money other than his salary.

The U.S. government proclamation initiating the ban targets 26 European countries that comprise a visa-free travel zone known as the Schengen Area. 

The United Kingdom, which is home to Trump Turnberry and Trump International Golf Links, and Ireland, which is home to another Trump-branded hotel and golf course at Doonbeg, do not participate in the Schengen Area. Bulgaria, Croatia and Romania are also not part of the Schengen Area. All three of the resorts are struggling financially.

Ireland’s prime minister, Leo Varadkar, is scheduled to meet Trump at the White House on Thursday in one of the few events related to St. Patrick’s Day that has not been canceled due to coronavirus concerns.

The administration’s European travel proclamation notes that “the Schengen Area has exported 201 COVID-19 cases to 53 countries. Moreover, the free flow of people between the Schengen Area countries makes the task of managing the spread of the virus difficult.”

Trump’s European travel ban comes with several other loopholes.

There are now 460 confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.K., including Nadine Dorries, the British government’s own health minister in charge of patient safety. Wednesday saw the biggest rise in U.K. cases in a single day, and the country’s highest-level crisis committee — known as Cobra — will meet Thursday to consider additional moves to reduce the impact of the virus.

Though they are subject to border checks on arrival, residents of the 26 Schengen Area countries are also free to live and work in the United Kingdom, meaning they could fly to the United States from a British airport under the terms of the travel ban.

Anita Kumar contributed to this report.

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