Politics

Maryland Democrat Pushes for Answers on Trump Role in FBI Headquarters Project

Sen. Chris Van Hollen said the GSA has not been fully forthcoming

The front of the J. Edgar Hoover FBI Building in Washington. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A Maryland Democratic senator wants to know how involved President Donald Trump has been in the development of a new FBI headquarters building.

Sen. Chris Van Hollen has written to General Services Administration Administrator Emily Murphy to give her an opportunity to expand on answers she gave in response to written questions for the record following a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing back in February.

“According to White House statements in recent news reports, President Trump has strong feelings about the project and intends to be very involved,” Van Hollen wrote in the Tuesday letter.

The GSA and FBI drew bipartisan criticism in February for what seemed like an abrupt and perhaps ill-conceived plan to abandon efforts to move the headquarters to a larger parcel of land in wither Maryland or Virginia, and instead try to rebuild on the existing site on Pennsylvania Avenue in Northwest Washington.

A draft plan that circulated in February would keep many FBI functions on the existing footprint, but about 2,300 employees would see their jobs relocated to facilities in other parts of the United States. That includes Huntsville, Ala., in the home state of both Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby.

On July 29, Axios reported that Trump himself had become somewhat obsessed with the FBI project, particularly the eyesore that is the FBI headquarters building. Trump’s business, of course, operates the hotel that is located within the nearby Old Post Office building. And the building currently named for J. Edgar Hoover is on prime real estate.

“This information, suggests that the President himself had a role in deciding that the FBI Headquarters should stay at the current site and not move to a more secure suburban location. Can you confirm that the President has communicated with GSA officials on this issue, and if so, please provide details on those conversations,” Van Hollen wrote. “I am writing to give you an opportunity to provide clarity on this issue and respond to my questions with the most accurate and up-to-date information.”

Van Hollen succeeded Democratic Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, who had long advocated for the FBI’s relocation to Maryland from her position as chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, as well as the top Democrat on the subcommittee responsible for Justice Department funding.

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