GSA denies Democratic claims that Trump intervened to stop FBI HQ move

Leslie Hanson
October 20, 2018

The newspaper report, citing congressional sources, said an executive for The Trump Organization had at one point raised concerns that, if the site was redeveloped into a hotel, new competition from across Pennsylvania Avenue could imperil the business prospects of the Trump hotel.

President Donald Trump was more deeply involved than the White House has indicated in a decision to keep the Federal Bureau of Investigation headquarters in D.C., according to new documents released Thursday by Democratic members of a House oversight panel.

"The idea that the reason the president wanted the F.B.I. headquarters to remain in its current location is based on anything other than the recommendation of the simply false", said Lindsay Walters, a White House spokeswoman, in a statement to ABC News.

File photo of then Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, left, his wife Melania Trump and daughter Tiffany Trump cutting the ribbon at the new Trump International Hotel on October 26, 2016, in Washington.

Trump "was directly involved with the decision to abandon the long-term relocation plan and instead move ahead with the more expensive proposal to construct a new building on the same site, and thereby prevent Trump Hotel competitors from acquiring the land", wrote Democratic Reps.

Oversight and Government Reform ranking member Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland joined in the letter with Transportation and Infrastructure ranking member Peter A. DeFazio of Oregon, Oversight subcommittee ranking members Gerald E. Connolly of Virginia and Dina Titus of Nevada, and perhaps most significantly, Rep.

Thursday's letter cites correspondence from a senior official at the General Services Administration, which manages real estate for the federal government, outlining a January 2018 Oval Office meeting and describing the headquarters decision as "what POTUS directed everyone to do". "Suggestions that those emails indicate presidential involvement in the location decision are inaccurate". "A number of emails referenced in today's congressional letter are taken out of context and refer to the project's funding approach, not the location decision", GSA said.

In August, an inspector general's report said the GSA official overseeing plans for the headquarters delivered incomplete - and possibly misleading - testimony to a congressional committee about the White House's input.

The IG report, though, offered no conclusions about whether Trump actively pushed for the downtown location in those meetings.

Connolly said the letters represent significant circumstantial evidence, given the overall context of the project. That decision came despite finding that rebuilding the facility on the same site would have cost more than building a new campus and selling the location, as well as be inadequate to house all personnel now spread out among multiple locations. The current J. Edgar Hoover building, built in 1974, is crumbling badly. After a December 20, 2017 meeting with with Trump's chief of staff, John Kelly, and budget director, Mick Mulvaney, the GSA's commissioner for public service buildings, Dan Matthews, emailed the FBI's CFO, Richard Haley, telling him, "The meeting took an unexpected turn as soon as we got there", and asked to set up a call. Critics have suggested the president didn't want a new commercial development to be built at the FBI's current location if the agency moved, in part because the Trump International Hotel is just a block away.

The letter also directly accuses Murphy of concealing information from Congress and providing a misleading impression about details about which she testified.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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