WASHINGTON: Frustrated with her unwillingness to condemn the use of Trump properties by traveling Air Force personnel, Sen. Richard Blumenthal today voted against Barbara Barrett as Air Force Secretary. In addition, Blumenthal said he questions her qualifications to lead the service.
“Our military budget is not President Trump’s personal piggy bank,” Blumenthal, a Democratic member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) said in a statement. “Ambassador Barrett refused to provide a clear commitment to ending unnecessary Air Force spending at President Trump’s lavish Scottish hotel. This is unacceptable, especially for a service secretary in an administration run by Grifter-in-Chief Donald Trump.”
Blumenthal’s intention to block Barrett’s nomination unless she promised to put forward “a policy to prohibit Air Force spending at Trump-owned properties” after she is confirmed was first reported by colleague Oriana Pawlyk.
Further, in a Sept. 13 letter to the Republican SASC Chairman James Inhofe and Ranking Minority Member Jack Reed, Blumenthal said that he believes Barrett “lacks many of the traditional credentials expected of the Secretary of the Air Force, and I was disappointed by her responses to questions during her office visit and public testimony – factors that have also contributed to my uncertainty about her ability to lead the Air Force.”
During Barrett’s confirmation hearing, Blumenthal pressured Barrett as to whether she would be willing to issue a ban on Air Force troops and officials staying at President Donald Trump’s properties overseas — a line of questioning piqued by recent revelations that some 60 troops have stayed at Trump’s property in Turnberry, Scotland, and Air Force planes have refueled at Prestwick Airport. While answering that she would be willing to “look at it,” she only pledged to look at how to “implement generic rules and regulations” to ensure “best value.”
A report in Politico first revealed the practice, and the hundreds of thousands of dollars spent, that has become commonplace since Trump’s election — and led to a subsequent Air Force investigation into the matter. The Air Force has said there have been some 40 stays by airmen at Trump’s property since 2015.