The Justice Department’s internal investigator said Tuesday that he would look into why the FBI’s long-planned relocation to the D.C. suburbs was canned in favor of demolishing and rebuilding at the bureau’s current site, down the street from the Trump International Hotel.
“The [Office of the Inspector General] is initiating a review that will assess the DOJ’s and FBI’s planning for a future FBI Headquarters facility,” DOJ Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz wrote Tuesday to the Democratic chairs of the House Oversight and Transportation Committees.
President Donald Trump’s potential involvement in scrapping the relocation plans is of interest to Democrats, who have questioned whether Trump pushed for the option that would benefit him financially.
“The Trump Administration’s abrupt decision to abandon the long-standing relocation plan is of concern in light of the fact that many years before becoming President, Donald Trump expressed interest in the FBI headquarters moving out of Washington, D. C. so he could acquire the land on Pennsylvania Avenue and redevelop the property, which is directly across the street from the Trump International Hotel,” they wrote in May, when requesting a DOJ OIG investigation.
“However, after he was sworn in as President — and became ineligible as a federal employee to obtain the property — he reportedly became ‘dead opposed’ to the government selling the property, which would have allowed commercial developers to compete directly with the Trump Hotel.”
One inspector general’s office has already looked into the scrapped relocation plans: The OIG of the General Services Administration, which is essentially the government’s landlord, found in an August 2018 report that Trump was involved in discussions with FBI and GSA leaders about the relocation plans, and in addition that GSA Administrator Emily Murphy’s congressional testimony on the matter “was incomplete and may have left the misleading impression that she had no discussions with White House officials in the decision-making process about the project.”
They also found that the GSA’s acting general counsel had received “direction” from the White House counsel’s office that led some GSA witnesses to refuse to answer investigators’ questions.