The FBI headquarters, otherwise known as the J. Edgar Hoover Building, sit in a brutalist structure directly across the street from the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. For years, the agency planned a move to the Maryland or Virginia suburbs. But Trump personally blocked the relocation, reports HuffPost, according to emails made public late last week.
The emails — between officials at the General Services Administration, which oversees government-owned properties, and the FBI — show that Trump quashed the plan to move the FBI headquarters to the suburbs and sell its building to developers for a mixed-use development.
“In the emails, made public by House Democrats, officials discuss ‘what was decided in the meeting with POTUS,’ ‘the President’s instructions,’ and ‘direction from WH’ following a January 2018 meeting about the plan,” HuffPost says.
Democrats on a number of House committees voiced their objection in a letter released Thursday. “Given this background, President Trump should have avoided all interactions or communications relating to the FBI headquarters project to prevent both real and perceived conflicts of interest,” they wrote. “He should not have played any role in a determination that bears directly on his own financial interests with the Trump Hotel. The GSA also should have taken steps to wall off the decision from improper influence.”
In 2013, Trump expressed interest in buying the land the FBI building sits on, should it become available. Since becoming president, he has been “obsessed with the building,” HuffPost says.
President Trump and his business, the Trump Organization, are the subject of two lawsuits that claim he’s in violation of the Constitution’s emoluments clause, which bars the president from accepting money from foreign governments while in office — which is conceivable for a hotelier who takes reservations from foreign nationals.
Washington, D.C., Attorney General Karl Racine filed one of the lawsuits, and he said of Thursday’s email release: “This kind of behavior demonstrates precisely why we sued President Trump: to stop him from violating the Constitution’s original anti-corruption provisions and to ensure he is working for the American people and not his personal financial interest.”