President Donald Trump was directly involved in decisions concerning the construction of a new FBI building, according to a government report released Monday. Trump’s involvement in this decision is notable due to a potential conflict of interest: the Trump International Hotel is essentially across the street from the FBI’s J. Edgar Hoover headquarters.
The inspector general for the General Services Administration, which oversees government functioning in areas such as real estate, published the report. The IG cited two meetings between Trump and GSA officials in January and June of this year as evidence of presidential influence.
In the first meeting, it was decided the crumbling, brutalist Hoover building would be demolished, the new FBI headquarters to be built on the same land, the Associated Press reports. The GSA had already decided more than a year ago that the FBI building would not move out of downtown Washington, D.C., as originally planned.
The specifics of what was said during the meetings between Trump and GSA officials is unclear, as those present were told not to divulge any of statements Trump made during those meetings, reports the IG.
The IG also determined the GSA inaccurately estimated the cost of moving the FBI to the D.C. suburbs. The GSA said it would be less costly to remain downtown, but the IG reported the numbers did not take into account the money that would be gained from selling the downtown property.
The GSA, however, maintains that their estimates “are accurate, transparent, and more representative of the full costs of the project than the analysis put forth in the IG review,” AP reports.
Representative Gerry Connolly (D-VA), who supports moving the FBI to D.C. suburbs, called for congressional hearings to determine Trump’s involvement in the project.
“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 told AP.
The IG’s report reveals that GSA Administrator Emily Murphy may have been misleading during her April testimony. Murphy said the GSA’s direction came from the FBI and failed to mention the White House meetings.
“We found that Murphy’s congressional testimony 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,” wrote the IG.
Murphy and the GSA, however, argues she was truthful in her testimony, The Washington Post reports.