Democrats Renew Pressure on FBI for Trump‘s Influence on Headquarters Move

Six Dem senators pen letter to FBI Director Wray asking for documents about decision to keep headquarters across from Trump Hotel

The J. Edgar Hoover FBI building in Washington as seen on Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2016. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
The J. Edgar Hoover FBI building in Washington as seen on Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2016. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Posted November 1, 2018 at 5:16pm

Democratic senators on Thursday stepped up their pressure on the FBI to provide more answers on President Donald Trump and his administration’s involvement in the scrapped FBI headquarters move.

In a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray, the Democratic senators demanded that he compile and hand over any documents and communications related to the FBI’s and General Services Administration’s decision to keep its headquarters in downtown Washington, D.C., on Pennsylvania Avenue — adjacent Trump Hotel.

Sens. Thomas R. Carper, Ben Cardin, Tim Kaine, Sheldon Whitehouse, Mark Warner, and Chris Van Hollen signed the letter stating their request, which follows a GSA Inspector General’s report that concluded Trump was more intimately involved in the debate over relocating the FBI headquarters than Congress was previously told by GSA Administrator Emily Murphy.

“In light of the GSA Inspector General’s findings and other evidence indicating potentially inappropriate involvement by the White House, we believe it is critical that you provide us with information regarding the process used at the FBI that resulted in the new plan,” the senators wrote.

They also requested communications regarding “the extent to which influence from or communications with the White House impacted” the decision to shelve previous plans to move FBI headquarters to a location in the Maryland or Virginia suburbs and remain on Pennsylvania Avenue.

The IG report, released in late August, confirms Trump was directly consulted about the process. Keeping headquarters at their current location would prevent the government from selling off the parcel of land to any Trump Hotel competitors.

“Murphy told us that she attended two meetings about the FBI project at the White House on January 24, 2018. The first meeting occurred in Kelly’s office, and immediately preceded the second meeting,” the report states. “The second meeting was in the Oval Office with the President.”

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray were also at that meeting to update Trump on the decision-making process.

The Democratic senators asked Wray to provide them with any “emails, correspondence, memos … notes, comments, papers, faxes, photographs, and text messages” pertaining to the decision not to move headquarters.

Democrats have previously called on the Justice Department inspector general to conduct a parallel investigation to the GSA’s previous investigation on the FBI’s decision-making process.