GSA head silent on Trump’s role in FBI building decision, watchdog says
(CNN) — President Donald Trump assembled a cadre of advisers in the Oval Office in January to discuss the FBI’s crumbling and outdated headquarters. His FBI head, chief of staff and budget director, and the government’s head of property management had just huddled and decided to rebuild — instead of relocating or renovating — the bureau’s central offices.
Three months later, one of the meetings’ attendees avoided telling Congress about Trump’s involvement, the inspector general for the General Services Administration concluded Monday. GSA Administrator Emily Murphy’s answers were “incomplete” and may have been misleading, according to the IG report.
The investigation had been requested by Rep. Gerry Connolly, a Virginia Democrat who asked for a look into “the agency’s abrupt decision to abandon longstanding plans” to relocate the FBI headquarters.
“Murphy told us that she believed her answers to Representative Quigley were truthful. We agree that her responses were literally true,” the report reads. “However … her testimony was incomplete and may have left the misleading impression that she had no discussions with the President or senior White House officials in the decision-making process about the project.”
A spokeswoman for the GSA focused on the first, rather than second, part of the inspector general’s conclusions.
“The IG review acknowledges an indisputable fact: The administrator’s congressional testimony was truthful,” said spokeswoman Pamela Dixon.
Dixon also defended the agency’s cost estimates for the projects, calling them “accurate, transparent, and more representative of the full costs of the project than the analysis put forth in the IG review.”
The inspector general had concluded that “GSA did not include all of the costs in its Revised FBI Headquarters Plan” and the rebuilding proposal selected by the FBI would cost more, rather than less, than the alternative plan.
The report does not conclude why Trump was personally interested in the project, especially considering his vitriolic rhetoric about the bureau and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. It also does not note the FBI building’s proximity to his DC hotel, which he leases from the GSA.
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