The Department of Justice Inspector General is opening an investigation into the decision by the Trump administration not to relocate FBI headquarters from D.C., which followed an extensive review of possible sites in suburban Maryland and Virginia.
The investigation follows complaints from Washington-area members of Congress and local leaders who had competed to bring jobs to the areas they represent.
Questions have also been raised about the decision in light of the fact that the Trump International Hotel, which is owned by the president, is located down the block from FBI headquarters on Pennsylvania Avenue.
The investigation was announced by the chairs of four House committees and subcommittees, including Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., who chairs the Committee on Oversight and Reform, and Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., who chairs the Subcommittee on Government Operations.
“For months our committees have investigated the administration’s sudden change of heart on a federal property across the street from the president’s namesake hotel, but because the FBI has withheld key decision-making documents from Congress, we have been left with many unanswered questions,” the lawmakers said in a statement. “We welcome the IG’s independent examination, which will supplement our ongoing effort to get to the truth.”
The other lawmakers who announced the investigation are Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., and Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev.
Democratic lawmakers have been pressing for more information about how the decision was made to keep the FBI in the District, and whether President Donald Trump was involved.
Connolly said in an interview with WTOP that he’s “very pleased” the inspector general is going to look into “the whole saga” of how the decision was made. He said he hopes that the investigation will lead to a new discussion of relocating the FBI headquarters.
“The original concept was that the current site is clearly inadequate; it’s falling apart,” he said, adding that it’s not as secure as it should be given, and that it’s located along busy Pennsylvania Avenue.
“A suburban campus is in FBI’s future. It allows a brand-new headquarters, that is a 21st-century headquarters, that takes into account all kind of new things that didn’t exist with the original J. Edgar Hoover building,” Connolly said.
He added that relocating elsewhere would allow for consolidation of the FBI workforce under one roof.
The administration has downplayed the role of the president and said that the FBI made the final decision to stay in D.C.
But local lawmakers say that Trump had expressed interest in moving the FBI out of the District before getting elected, so he could redevelop the property. They say he opposed the move after becoming president, suggesting the property could have been redeveloped and compete with his hotel.
In April, FBI Director Christopher Wray testified before Congress that it was the FBI’s preference to build a new headquarters at the agency’s current location.
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