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GSA: Trump involved in scuttling plan for new FBI headquarters

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Donald Trump
Donald Trump.
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  • A new government report found that President Donald
    Trump was much more involved in the debate over a new FBI
    headquarters than Congress was originally told.
  • The current FBI headquarters is across the street from
    Trump’s Washington, DC, hotel.

A Government Services Administration
(GSA) inspector general report on Monday
detailed that
President Donald Trump was much more involved in the debate over
a new FBI headquarters than Congress was originally told.

GSA officials may not have exactly been forthright with some
answers to a congressional committee, according to the report,
which also says the officials misrepresented the costs of their
plan to replace the FBI’s current headquarters, which sits across
the street from Trump’s Washington, DC, hotel.

Those officials made a replacement plan involving a new downtown
headquarters for the agency sound like a less-expensive option
than the prior plan, when in fact the opposite was true, The Washington Post reported.

The report states that GSA Administrator Emily Murphy met with
Trump, White House chief of staff John Kelly, and Office of
Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney in two January
meetings.

Then in a House hearing months later, Murphy answered a question
on whether Trump or anyone in his administration was involved in
discussions about a new FBI headquarters by saying that the
“direction that we got came from the FBI.”

“It was the FBI that directed to GSA as to what its requirements
would be,” she said. “We obviously did coordinate, given that it
is a substantial budget request, we coordinated that request with
OMB to provide for funding but the requirements were generated by
the FBI.”

The agency, meanwhile, said Murphy wasn’t talking about the
bigger-picture conversations about the project, but merely
discussions about where the headquarters would be located.

The report followed reporting last month by The Post and Axios that detailed how Trump
took a huge interest in the project. The Post reported that Trump
became “become personally involved in plotting a new FBI
headquarters in downtown Washington, an interest that for now has
left the project in limbo and the agency stranded in a building
that no longer suits its needs, according to officials and people
familiar with the administration’s deliberations.”

Last year, federal officials decided on three possible locations
for a new headquarters in either Maryland or Virginia, and
Congress approved nearly $1 billion in funding for the project,
The Post reported.

“Six months after Trump entered the White House, his
administration abandoned the plan, and it proposed in February
that the government build a smaller headquarters to replace the
Hoover building in downtown DC and move 2,300 other FBI staffers
out of the Washington area altogether, to Alabama, Idaho and West
Virginia,” The Post reported. “At the time, the decision baffled
real estate experts and some members of Congress.”

The Post reported that the replacement plan came about after
Trump took interest in the project. Sources told the publication
that Trump was “dead opposed” to plans to move the headquarters
out of DC and into Maryland or Virginia.

At the time, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders
told The Post that Trump was “interested in making sure taxpayer
dollars spent on new buildings are being spent wisely and
appropriately.”

“He has been a builder all of his life and it should come as no
surprise he wants to take the skills and great success he had in
the private sector and apply it here,” Sanders added in a
statement.

A source told Axios that Trump was treating the FBI project as if
it were one being carried out by the Trump Organization.

Democratic Rep. Gerald Connolly of Virginia requested the GSA
inspector general report.

“When we began this investigation, the prospect that President
Trump was personally involved in the government-led redevelopment
of a property in close proximity to the Trump Hotel was dismissed
as a conspiracy theory,” Connolly said in a statement. “Now, the
president’s involvement in this multi-billion-dollar government
procurement which will directly impact his bottom line has been
confirmed by the White House Press Secretary and government
photographs.”

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