Former President Donald Trump was exonerated by the Department of Justice on Thursday in an investigation into the FBI’s intentions to vacate the prestigious J. Edgar Hoover building. The investigation determined that allegations of collusion made to defend his Washington, D.C. hotel were without merit.
Democratic members of Congress were the first to request the report. They claimed that President Trump exerted pressure on former Director Christopher Wray to authorize a relocation plan that would have thwarted the development of a competing hotel on the site of the Hoover Building, but provided no evidence to support their claims. This request resulted in the Oversight and Review Division of the DOJ publishing the report. Once the Bureau realized that selling the Hoover Building to a private developer would not generate sufficient funds to purchase a new structure, it ultimately decided against proceeding.
The report’s authors stated that Wray did not sense any pressure from President Trump to make a choice.
“Wray told us that his decision to recommend staying in the current location was not based on anything that Trump said or wanted… Wray told us that Trump was ‘not involved’ in Wray’s recommendation, and he did not feel that Trump was trying to ‘steer [him] to a particular outcome,’” they wrote.
“Specifically, we found no evidence that, in making the decision to seek to have the new FBI headquarters remain at its current JEH site, Director Wray or others at the FBI considered the location of the then-named Trump International Hotel or how then-President Trump’s financial interests could be impacted by the decision,” the report reads.”
The contentious issue arose in 2018 when Democrats, led by Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), a member of the House oversight panel, levied charges that President Trump was abusing his authority to protect the Trump International Hotel, a mere three minutes’ distance from the Hoover Building.
“Given this background, President Trump should have avoided all interactions or communications relating to the FBI headquarters project to prevent both real and perceived conflicts of interest,” Democrats wrote at the time. “He should not have played any role in a determination that bears directly on his own financial interests with the Trump hotel.”
The outcome of the election implies that federal investigators might be waning their desire to prosecute President Trump. However, special counsel Jack Smith continues to pursue two separate cases against the Republican Party front-runner, which could potentially incur an annual expenditure of $25 million. Smith has faced numerous legal challenges in his struggle against Trump’s formidable legal team.