As part of its investigation into whether President Trump interfered with plans to relocate the FBI headquarters to prevent competition with his Washington, D.C. hotel, American Oversight sued to force the release of documents related to the president’s involvement in the decision. Earlier this week, we announced that three agencies were refusing to search for records according to our specific requests, and now it appears that lawmakers are also having difficulty getting what they’ve asked for.
On Wednesday, five House committee chairs wrote a letter to the General Services Administration to demand documents they requested in October and December of 2018 regarding the president’s interference. The current FBI headquarters sit a block away from the Trump International Hotel, and Trump’s involvement in the costly decision to rebuild the headquarters at its current site — rather than relocate — has drawn scrutiny.
Despite extensive negotiations, the Office of Management and Budget, the Department of Justice, and the FBI appear to be stonewalling our investigation by omitting search terms related to the hotel and the Old Post Office building (the federal site where the hotel sits), a strategy that seems designed to miss records that could point to the president or the Trump Organization having improperly influenced the decision.
With three new lawsuits (see below), multiple new FOIA requests, and ongoing congressional hearings, it’s been a busy week: