WASHINGTON - Newly released government emails indicate President Donald Trump directly intervened in plans to keep FBI headquarters in downtown Washington instead of a long-planned move to the suburbs.
Democrats on the House Oversight Committee released the emails Thursday. They call the president’s actions a clear conflict of interest because a Trump-owned hotel is directly across Pennsylvania Avenue from the FBI building.
The lawmakers say Trump has always wanted the FBI property for himself. Since he is ineligible to do that as president, he now wants to keep anyone else from buying it and building a competing hotel on the vacant site, they allege.
The Democrats released a letter Thursday to General Services Administration chief Emily Murphy in which the lawmakers suggest she misled Congress about the president’s involvement. The GSA is the landlord for federal buildings.
The letter informs Murphy that she met with Trump and FBI officials in the White House in January in which Trump was “directly involved” in the decision to keep the headquarters right where it is.
The letter to Murphy states: “New documents provided to the Oversight Committee indicate that President Trump met personally with you, the FBI, and White House officials on January 24, 2018, where he 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.”
Both the White House and GSA say the Democrats are wrong and that the decision not to move was entirely the FBI’s and based on the cost of finding a new headquarters in Maryland or Virginia.
The current FBI building was built in 1974 and is said to be in poor condition, too small, and that its location along a busy downtown street makes needed security upgrades nearly impossible.