Woody Johnson, the American ambassador to Britain, told several colleagues in 2018 the president had asked him to change the location of the top-flight British Open golf tournament so it would take place at his Trump Turnberry resort in Scotland, the New York Times has claimed. Mr Johnson’s deputy, Lewis A. Lukens, had warned the ambassador such an action would be an abuse of the president’s power.
Mr Lukens also raised his concerns with US State Department officials.
The deputy was fired from his role shortly after, though reports claim this was to do with a separate matter. His role in the department had lasted nearly 30 years.
The ambassador pressed forward with the idea despite Mr Lukens’ concerns, the New York Times claims, proposing to Scotland’s Secretary of State David Mundell that the tournament be relocated to Mr Trump’s resort.
Mr Mundell declined to discuss this in a recent interview. A government statement on the matter claimed there had been “no request of Mr. Mundell regarding the British Open or any other sporting event”.
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Though it is legal for the US president to take part in any government matters affecting personal finances, some analysts have pointed out attempts to move the tournament to Mr Trump’s resorts would still be illegal under another part of the US Constitution.
This is because it is prohibited for government officials to accept gifts from foreign governments, and the British and Scottish authorities would have “most likely” had to pay for the tournament’s security, the NYT adds.
The British Open is one of four major golf tournaments in the world, along with the Masters, the US Open, and the PGA Championship.
It is usually held every year on a range of courses throughout Scotland and England.