The conclusion of the preceding month saw the release of the report authored by the inspector general of the Justice Department. This development occurred after a protracted inquiry that spanned multiple years. Former President Donald Trump was exonerated of any malfeasance in connection with the FBI’s proposal to relocate its headquarters facility bearing the name J. Edgar Hoover, according to the findings of the study.
The inquiry was initiated in response to allegations leveled by Democrats against former President Trump, wherein they claimed he exerted pressure on Christopher Wray, the director of the FBI appointed by Trump after James Comey was fired, to authorize a new location for the headquarters. It has been claimed that the purpose of this relocation was to prevent the establishment of a hotel competitor on the site where the previous Hoover building stood.
Following the conclusion reached by FBI accountants that the federal government could not sell the Hoover Building to a potential developer at a cost equivalent to the expenditures incurred in constructing an entirely new structure, the concept was ultimately abandoned.
As per the findings of the Department of Justice Inspector General (DOJ IG) investigators, the FBI director unequivocally declared that he was not subjected to any type of pressure from President Trump regarding a specific decision, in contrast to claims put forth by Democratic party members.
“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.”
In the year 2018, allegations were leveled against President Trump by Democratic Party members, led by the late Representative Elijah Cummings from Maryland. The aforementioned allegations indicated that President Trump may have been making an effort to protect his Trump International Hotel, which was conveniently located in Washington, D.C., and was within three minutes’ walking distance of 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 then. “He should not have played any role in a determination that bears directly on his own financial interests with the Trump hotel.”
The report reads:
In September 2017, President Trump called Wray and asked him what he wanted to do about the FBI Headquarters. Wray responded that he had not had a chance to look at the issue yet, and Trump advised Wray to work on it with GSA and tell Trump what Wray thought. In late 2017, then White House Chief of Staff John Kelly told Wray that it did not make sense to the President why the FBI would want to leave the JEH site.
In December 2017, Wray informed GSA that the FBI wanted its Headquarters to remain in its current location. Following a January 4, 2018 meeting in which the FBI presented JEH renovation plans to GSA, GSA recommended demolishing JEH, instead of renovating it, and building a new facility on the site.
“On January 24, 2018, before a meeting with President Trump, Kelly met in his White House office with Wray, then Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, then White House Counsel Donald McGahn, then OMB Director Mick Mulvaney, and then GSA Administrator Emily Murphy,” the report noted further.
“During this premeeting, consensus was reached on demolishing JEH and building a new facility on the site, and Wray learned that Mulvaney would support the P3 financing strategy. The same participants then met in the Oval Office with Trump, who asked Wray and Murphy what they were thinking,” the IG report added.
“Wray and Murphy told Trump that they thought the best idea was for the FBI to build a new facility in the current location, and Trump expressed support for this plan. Wray told us that he did not feel pressured or bullied by Trump in the meeting,” it said.
“Although most of the conversation focused on Trump’s construction questions about the new facility, Wray also recalled impressing on Trump that Mulvaney’s P3 support was critical for the project, but Wray did not remember what Trump said about the project funding,” said the report.