March 06, 2019

Democratic Chairs Press Administration for Documents Withheld on FBI Headquarters Across Street from Trump Hotel in D.C.

Washington, D.C. (Mar. 6, 2019)—Today, the Chairs of five House Committees and Subcommittees sent a letter demanding documents that are currently being withheld by the Trump Administration relating to the decision to block the longstanding plan to relocate the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) headquarters to a suburban location—which would have allowed commercial developers to acquire the existing site and compete directly with the Trump Hotel across the street on Pennsylvania Avenue—and instead raze and rebuild at the existing location.

The letter was sent to the General Services Administration (GSA) by Chairman Elijah E. Cummings of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, Chairman Peter DeFazio of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Chairman Gerald E. Connolly of the Subcommittee on Government Operations, Chairwoman Dina Titus of the Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management, and Chairman Mike Quigley of the Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government of the Committee on Appropriations.

The five Chairs sent a previous request to GSA on October 18, 2018, after separately obtaining documents describing the Administration’s decision as “direction from the White House,” “what POTUS directed everyone to do,” and “the project the president wants.”  The documents also showed that top GSA officials promised to “hold our ground” on this proposal “per the President’s instructions.”  In their October letter, the Chairs requested eight categories of documents relating to the Administration’s sudden reversal and the President’s role.

“To date, your compliance with our request has been woefully inadequate,” the five Chairs wrote in their letter today.  “On December 19, 2018, we met with your staff to discuss this request.  At that time, your staff produced a copy of highly redacted documents that were partially responsive to one request for a narrow time period.  These documents had been previously provided to Congress more than one year earlier, and you have produced no additional documents since that time.”

Before becoming President, Trump expressed interest in the FBI headquarters moving out of Washington, D.C. so he could acquire the land and redevelop the property.  After being sworn in as President—and becoming 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 with the Trump Hotel across the street.

By abandoning the relocation plan in favor of rebuilding the existing facility, the Trump Administration’s plan would cost hundreds of millions of dollars more and accommodate thousands fewer employees, according to a report released by the GSA Inspector General last year.

In addition to reiterating their earlier request to GSA, Chairs Cummings, DeFazio, Connolly, and Titus sent letters to the FBI and Department of Justice requesting documents and interviews.

Click here to read today’s letter to GSA.

Click here to read today’s letter to FBI.

Click here to read today’s letter to DOJ.