Democrats leading the House Oversight and Transportation committees wrote to the General Services Administration Wednesday demanding documents and answers in their five-month-old quest to learn whether President Donald Trump meddled in the FBI’s plan to build a new headquarters for his own benefit.
The GSA’s document production has so far “been woefully inadequate,” wrote Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-MA); Government Operations subcommittee chair Gerry Connolly (D-MA); Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-OR); Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management subcommittee chair Dina Titus (D-NV); and Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL), the chair of the Financial Service and General Government subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee.
Last year, the GSA and FBI announced that, instead of going to a new suburban location as had been the plan for years, the FBI would instead stay at its current location — just steps from Trump’s D.C. hotel — and replace the existing J. Edgar Hoover building with an entirely new facility.
The GSA inspector general eventually found that the agency had incorrectly low-balled what the new plan would cost, and also that GSA Administrator Emily Murphy had incorrectly told Congress that she hadn’t met with Trump to discuss the FBI staying at its current location, when photos showed that she had. The inspector general’s report also said that GSA officials had effectively been instructed by the White House counsel’s office not to disclose details about Murphy’s meeting with Trump.
In October, Democrats pressed the GSA and Murphy for answers. They also released internal communications from GSA and FBI officials who referred to “direction from WH,” “what POTUS directed everyone to do” and “the President’s instructions.”
The Democrats also noted Trump’s own about-face on the plan: Before becoming President, he expressed interest in taking over the FBI’s old stomping grounds. After his election— after “he lost his ability to bid on the FBI property,” Democrats noted — Trump insisted that the address was “prime real estate” and that the FBI needed to keep it.
The Democrats warned the GSA Wednesday: “If you fail to comply, we will be forced to consider alternative means to obtain compliance.”