Official Didn’t Disclose Trump Role in FBI Building Change

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The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) may have misled Congress about the White House’s role in canceling a decade-long search for a new FBI headquarters campus in the Washington suburbs last year, says the GSA’s inspector general. GSA officials also misrepresented the costs of their replacement plan — to build a new downtown headquarters — making it seem as though it would cost less than the original plan when it would actually cost more, said the IG, the Washington Post reports. GSA administrator Emily Murphy met with President Trump, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and budget director Mick Mulvaney on Jan. 24. In a hearing three months later, Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL) asked Murphy, “To your knowledge, was the president or anyone else at the White House involved in those discussions, either with your predecessors, people you’re working with now, or yourself?”

Murphy responded, “The direction that we got came from the FBI. It was the FBI that directed to GSA as to what its requirements would be.” The GSA says Murphy was referring to where the FBI would be located, not the larger discussions about the project. The agency disputed the findings of GSA Inspector General Carol Ochoa. The report offers a look at the internal machinations behind a decision to dump a decade of work toward building a $3-billion-plus secure campus in the Washington suburbs. Murphy told the investigators that the downtown location was not her agency’s “preferred site and that a lot of work had gone into the campus concept.” Still, FBI Director Christopher Wray persisted to support a downtown Washington, D.C., location, and in the GSA’s telling, by the time two White House meetings took place it had been all but decided that the FBI would remain downtown.

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