Justice Watchdog to Probe FBI Role in Dropping Plan to Move Headquarters

The U.S. Justice Department’s watchdog will review the role of the FBI and Justice Department in a reversal of plans to move FBI headquarters to the Washington suburbs, Democratic congressional leaders said Wednesday. 

The department’s inspector general informed House committee leaders of the review in a letter on Tuesday after two committees had pushed him to investigate the reversal. 

The leaders of four House committees, including Oversight and Transportation, who are pursuing their own investigations into the shift of FBI headquarters plans, said in a statement they welcomed the watchdog’s examination. 

Before he was elected, U.S. President Donald Trump had favored a government plan to move FBI headquarters from downtown Washington, where it is housed in a crumbling building adorned with safety nets to catch falling chunks of concrete. It is also too small for the bureau’s thousands of local employees. 

Current preference

Trump now favors replacing the building with a new structure in the same location. 

Democrats have alleged that Trump, a real estate developer before becoming president, had expressed interest in the FBI’s move so he could buy the land where the current headquarters sits and redevelop it. 

The Democrats say Trump, who owns a hotel down the street from the current FBI building, changed his position on the headquarters move after he became president and was disqualified from bidding for the land. 

The watchdog for the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), which manages federal buildings, said last year that the revised plan would be more expensive than the original proposal to move the headquarters. 

The GSA’s inspector general also found that the GSA administrator had not disclosed a meeting with the president on the subject. 

The White House and the GSA did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The Justice Department declined to comment. 

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