“No, I never spoke to Woody Johnson about that, about Turnberry,” Mr. Trump said. “Turnberry is a highly respected course, as you know, one of the best in the world. I read a story about it today, and I never spoke to Woody Johnson about doing it, no.
The White House, State Department and Mr Johnson’s embassy were invited to comment ahead of the story’s publication, and all declined to address the issue directly. In a Twitter post on Wednesday, Mr Johnson did not deny the episode but simply said he did not violate any regulations. “I followed the rules and ethical requirements of my office at all times,” he writes.
Mr Johnson, the billionaire heir to the Johnson & Johnson pharmaceutical fortune and owner of the New York Jets, has spoken to several people about it.
Mr Lukens confirmed on Wednesday that Mr Johnson informed him of Mr Trump’s request. “I told him it would violate federal ethics rules and be generally inappropriate,” Lukens wrote in a text message to NPR.