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The President & the Executive Branch Discuss Why Trump has no business being an innkeeper near the FBI at the Political Forums; In my experience, it is almost unheard of for the White House, much less the president individually, to be involved ...

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Old 08-29-2018, 10:11 PM
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Default Why Trump has no business being an innkeeper near the FBI

In my experience, it is almost unheard of for the White House, much less the president individually, to be involved in deciding whether, how and when to build a new government building. Such matters are usually worked out by the agency or entity that wants the new building and the General Services Administration, and then taken further in the appropriation process as Congress allocates funds for the new building. Such matters usually do not involve the president.

However, in a report released this week, the Office of the Inspector General for the GSA suggested that GSA Administrator Emily Murphy's answers about President Donald Trump's potential involvement in changing construction plans for a new FBI building were "incomplete" and possibly misleading. Murphy avoided mentioning, when Congress asked three months after the fact, Trump's involvement. Of particular interest is a January meeting to discuss the FBI's deteriorating headquarters; Trump's assembled advisers met and decided to rebuild (not relocate or renovate) the building. Not coincidentally, that construction as originally planned would relocate the FBI away from its current location across the street from Trump International Hotel in Washington.
Congress has already allocated funds for this proposed new building for the FBI (an agency about which Trump has not been shy in expressing his feelings). Controlling the future of the FBI's new building for this President is not only a way to protect his precious hotel -- it's also a way for Trump to assert dominance over the FBI.
Indeed the GSA inspector general report revealed that Trump was far more involved in deliberations over the new FBI headquarters than Congress was originally told. Apparently the President was involved in a decision to abandon plans -- already approved by Congress -- to vacate the J. Edgar Hoover FBI Building across from the Trump hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue, and move the FBI to a location in Maryland or Virginia. It is not clear what will happen, but the result of Trump's interference is almost certain to delay, perhaps for a few years, the FBI's proposed move out of the Hoover building.

And that of course is to the benefit of Trump. Trump's being in the White House is what drives up room rental and restaurant prices in the hotel in the first place. He is almost certainly averse to large-scale moving and demolition work being done in the neighborhood, at least while he is in office. Trump obviously has a strong economic interest in having government buildings around his hotel and in not reducing its attractiveness (with construction and the like) as a preferred venue for lobbyists, US government officials and foreign government officials during his term in office.
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