Trump’s Interference in the FBI Headquarters Relocation Plan

A plan to relocate the FBI headquarters to the Washington, D.C., suburbs was surprisingly scrapped in favor of the far costlier option of rebuilding at its existing site — which happens to sit a block away from the Trump International Hotel. American Oversight is investigating what influence the White House and the Trump Organization might have had over a decision that ensures a huge city block remains free of competition for the president’s hotel.

Background

For more than a decade, the FBI sought congressional funding to move its headquarters from the deteriorating J. Edgar Hoover Building in downtown Washington, D.C., to the suburbs — a cost-saving plan that would address serious security concerns and free up prime downtown real estate. So when the Trump administration canceled the project in July 2017 and then seven months later announced plans to rebuild at the downtown site, which sits a block away from the Trump International Hotel, eyebrows rose.

In late summer 2018, after reports surfaced that President Donald Trump was personally involved in that decision, the inspector general of the General Services Administration found that GSA Administrator Emily Murphy may have misled Congress earlier in the year about the extent of Trump’s involvement — and that the agency had not accurately estimated the costs of the rebuilding.

The inspector general report also mentioned three meetings GSA officials had with the White House about the rebuilding plan. During a December 2017 meeting, Murphy met with then–White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Mick Mulvaney, who was then the director of the Office of Management and Budget, where she may have been told that the president wanted to be updated on the project. A month later, during another White House meeting, Murphy met with Kelly and Mulvaney, as well as with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray, in Kelly’s office, before moving to the Oval Office to meet with Trump. The third meeting occurred in June 2018 at the White House, and included Murphy, the president, Kelly, Rosenstein, Wray, and other officials, including OMB’s deputy director.

American Oversight filed 18 Freedom of Information Act requests to the relevant agencies (the Department of Justice, FBI, OMB, and GSA) for records of these three meetings as well as any communications those agencies had with the White House or key people from the Trump Organization.

In late October, after the agencies failed to turn over records, American Oversight filed a suite of lawsuits to uncover what role Trump and the Trump Organization played in the decision to reverse the FBI’s long-standing plans — and whether personal enrichment and a desire to shield his namesake hotel from competition were behind the president’s interest in the rebuilding project.

What We’re Seeking

  • Communications between the White House and officials at the General Services Administration, the Office of Management and Budget, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Department of Justice
  • Communications between the Trump Organization and officials at the GSA, OMB, FBI, and DOJ
  • Records of the December 20, 2017, White House meeting that included the GSA and OMB
  • Records of the January 24, 2018, White House meeting that included the GSA, OMB, FBI, and DOJ
  • Records of the June 15, 2018, White House meeting that included the GSA, OMB, FBI, and DOJ

Related Documents

May 31, 2019

FBI Records Regarding Meeting Notes in the FBI Headquarters Consolidation Project

Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation
Agency Record
April 17, 2019

No Records Response and Withheld Documents from OMB Regarding the FBI Headquarters Consolidation Project

Office of Management and Budget
Agency Reply
March 15, 2019

Records from GSA Regarding the FBI Headquarters Consolidation Project

General Services Administration
Agency Record
December 21, 2018

GSA Letter Withholding Documents Related to White House Meeting on FBI Headquarters

Agency Record
December 7, 2018

No Records Response from GSA Regarding Trump Organization Communications about FBI Headquarters

General Services Administration
Agency Reply
December 7, 2018

No Records and Withheld Records Responses from GSA regarding White House FBI Headquarters Meetings

General Services Administration
Agency Reply
October 23, 2018

Complaint: American Oversight v. GSA – FBI Headquarters Consolidation Project

General Services Administration
Litigation
October 23, 2018

Complaint: American Oversight v. DOJ – FBI Headquarters Consolidation Project

Department of Defense
Litigation
October 23, 2018

Complaint: American Oversight v. FBI – FBI Headquarters Consolidation Project

Federal Bureau of Investigation
Litigation
October 23, 2018

Complaint: American Oversight v. DOJ, FBI, OMB, and GSA – White House Meetings Regarding FBI Headquarters

Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, General Services Administration, Office of Management and Budget
Litigation
August 30, 2018

FOIA to OMB Seeking June Meeting Notes Regarding the FBI Headquarters Consolidation Project

Office of Management and Budget
FOIA Request
August 30, 2018

FOIA to OMB Seeking January Meeting Notes Regarding the FBI Headquarters Consolidation Project

Office of Management and Budget
FOIA Request
August 30, 2018

FOIA to OMB Seeking December Meeting Notes Regarding the FBI Headquarters Consolidation Project

Office of Management and Budget
FOIA Request
August 30, 2018

FOIA to OMB Seeking Communications Between OMB and Trump Organization Officials

Office of Management and Budget
FOIA Request
August 30, 2018

FOIA to OMB Seeking Communications with the White House Regarding the Headquarters Consolidation Project

Office of Management and Budget
FOIA Request
August 30, 2018

FOIA to GSA Seeking June Meeting Notes Regarding the FBI Headquarters Consolidation Project

General Services Administration
FOIA Request
August 30, 2018

FOIA to GSA Seeking January Meeting Notes Regarding the FBI Headquarters Consolidation Project

General Services Administration
FOIA Request
August 30, 2018

FOIA to GSA Seeking December Meeting Notes Regarding the FBI Headquarters Consolidation Project

General Services Administration
FOIA Request
August 30, 2018

FOIA to GSA Seeking Communications Between GSA and Trump Organization Officials

General Services Administration
FOIA Request
August 30, 2018

FOIA to GSA Seeking Communications with the White House Regarding the Headquarters Consolidation Project

General Services Administration
FOIA Request
August 30, 2018

FOIA to the FBI Seeking June Meeting Notes Regarding the FBI Headquarters Consolidation Project

Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation
FOIA Request
August 30, 2018

FOIA to the FBI Seeking January Meeting Notes Regarding the FBI Headquarters Consolidation Project

Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation
FOIA Request
August 30, 2018

FOIA to FBI Seeking Communications Between FBI and Trump Organization Officials

Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation
FOIA Request
August 30, 2018

FOIA to the FBI Seeking Communications with the White House Regarding the Headquarters Consolidation Project

Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation
FOIA Request
August 30, 2018

FOIA to DOJ Seeking June Meeting Notes Regarding the FBI Headquarters Consolidation Project

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
August 30, 2018

FOIA to DOJ Seeking January Meeting Notes Regarding the FBI Headquarters Consolidation Project

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
August 30, 2018

FOIA to DOJ Seeking Communications Between DOJ and Trump Organization Officials

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
August 30, 2018

FOIA to DOJ Seeking Communications with the White House Regarding the Headquarters Consolidation Project

Department of Justice
FOIA Request
May 6, 2018

GSA Documents Related to the FBI HQs Consolidation Project

General Services Administration
Agency Record