According to a report released by the Justice Department’s inspector general on Tuesday, former president Donald Trump did not improperly influence the decision of where to build the FBI headquarters in order to shield his hotel from competition.
According to the report, an investigation into Trump’s possible influence on the FBI’s 2017 decision to scrap plans to build a $3 billion suburban campus in Maryland or Virginia for its 10,000 workers sparked in June 2019. Some legislators suspected that, given the site’s proximity to his prior hotel in Washington, D.C., he was trying to prevent it from being used for a competing hotel development, but the study dispelled such fears.
Lawmakers “expressed concern about whether then President Trump opposed the FBI moving to the suburbs,” according to a report by DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz. This is because the site of the former J. Edgar Hoover Building would have been sold to a developer who might have built a hotel competing with the nearby Trump International Hotel, in which Trump had a financial interest at the time.
According to Horowitz’s research, however, the decision was likely motivated by financial and logistical reasons rather than a conscious attempt by Trump to defend his property from prospective competitors.
For example, “[FBI Director] Wray enumerated several factors that he and others at the FBI considered, including proximity to the FBI’s partners and cost,” as reported by Horowitz.
According to the report, multiple FBI officials, including Wray, told the inspector general that they had the authority to choose the new headquarters location.
In response to Horowitz’s question, “Wray said that he did not feel ‘pressured or bullied or browbeaten’ or ‘pushed’ by Trump in making the decision to recommend that FBI Headquarters remain at the JEH site,” Wray said. Wray told us that Trump had no influence on his decision to suggest continuing operations from their current location.
Horowitz stated there was no proof that the FBI’s choice to keep its headquarters in its current location was motivated by inappropriate factors.
The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment from the FBI, DOJ, and the Trump campaign was not met with an instant response.