Trump did not influence FBI's decision on headquarters, watchdog says despite Democratic allegations
"We found no evidence that the FBI’s decision to seek to have its Headquarters remain in its current location was based on improper considerations or motives," the report states.
Former President Donald Trump did not influence the FBI's decision to rebuild its headquarters on its current D.C. site rather than at a new suburban campus despite allegations from some Democrats that he personally intervened in the decision, according to a new Justice Department watchdog report.
"We found no evidence that the FBI’s decision to seek to have its Headquarters remain in its current location was based on improper considerations or motives," the department's Inspector General's Office concluded in a 76-page report released Tuesday.
The government had scrapped a plan in 2017 to build a $3 billion FBI headquarters with multiple potential locations in Maryland or Virginia. A new plan proposed in 2018 involved demolishing the J. Edgar Hoover Building, where the existing headquarters is located, and rebuilding a new FBI facility at the same site.
In 2019, congressional Democrats expressed concerns that Trump was opposed to moving the headquarters from the Hoover building in D.C. because he did not want the location to be sold to a developer who could have built a hotel that could have competed with the nearby Trump International Hotel, which was since sold and rebranded as a Waldorf Astoria.
Both FBI Director Christopher Wray and Facilities Division Assistant Director Richard Haley said the location of the Trump International Hotel never factored into consideration when determining future locations for headquarters, the report from Inspector General Michael Horowitz states.
Wray further told the inspector general that he did not remember having any concerns during conversations with Trump that the then-president had an interest in the location. Trump asked quite a few questions about construction possibilities during a meeting in January 2018, but Wray said he recalled thinking that Trump "loves buildings" and "maybe that's not weird because that's what he spent his whole career doing."
The true motivation for not moving the FBI headquarters outside of D.C. was likely due to funding and logistical issues, such as how the Justice Department headquarters is conveniently located near the existing FBI building, the report stated.