(AP) – Former U.S. President Donald Trump traveled to Scotland on Monday to open a new golf course at his resort near Aberdeen, in his first overseas trip since he was indicted in New York on criminal charges in a hush money scheme.
Trump and his son Eric were greeted by two pipers, a red carpet and a 10-vehicle motorcade at Aberdeen International Airport as they stepped off his private jet with an American flag painted on the tailfin.
“It’s great to be home — this was the home of my mother,” Trump said. His late mother, Mary, was born on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides before immigrating to the United States.
Trump’s trip coincides with the second week of a Manhattan civil trial over accusations he raped former magazine columnist E. Jean Carroll in a department store dressing room in 1996. He denies the allegation and has not attended the trial, which is expected to last through the week.
It’s his first trip abroad since he became the first former U.S. president to face criminal charges. He pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in a court appearance last month. No travel restrictions were placed on him as a condition of release, provided that he shows up in court for required appearances.
The hush money case is just one of several investigations that could result in criminal charges for Trump as he campaigns for a return to the White House. His 2024 bid was top of mind as he previewed his trip to Aberdeen on his social media site.
“Will be meeting with many wonderful friends, and cutting a ribbon for a new and spectacular second course in Aberdeen,’’ Trump wrote on his Truth Social platform. “Very exciting despite the fact that it is ‘make America great again’ that is on my mind, in fact, America will be greater than ever before.”
Trump’s visit to Scotland comes shortly after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, considered his top rival for the 2024 presidential nomination, returned home from his own international trip. DeSantis, looking to burnish his foreign policy credentials, visited Japan, South Korea, Israel and the United Kingdom along with his wife, Casey.
As he nears a presidential bid of his own, DeSantis’ trip differed from Trump’s in that it was aimed at generating lucrative business deals and also boosting the governor’s diplomatic resume ahead of an expected presidential run.
While some allies initially believed DeSantis might wait until as late as early summer to enter the race, they now expect him to announce as early as this month. Florida’s GOP-dominated Legislature recently gave approval to a measure that would tweak state law to allow DeSantis to run for president without resigning from the governorship.
When he leaves Scotland, Trump will head to his golf course in Doonbeg on Ireland’s west coast.
During his presidency, Trump came under intense scrutiny for frequenting properties he owns and profits from, giving them taxpayer-funded publicity and running up millions of dollars in taxpayer costs. In 2019, then-Vice President Mike Pence stayed at Trump’s Doonbeg hotel at taxpayers’ expense, defending his decision by saying it was a “logical” choice because of “the unique footprint that comes with our security detail and other personnel.”