The veracity of the Trump administration’s public statements is being called into question once again, this time by the Inspector General of the General Services Administration (GSA), the agency that manages and supports the functioning of all federal agencies, according to an account on The Hill.
The new report by the GSA’s Inspector General shows that the Trump administration may have lied to Congress about the level of influence that the Trump White House wielded in the decision to keep the headquarters of the FBI in its current location on Pennsylvania Avenue near the Trump International Hotel.
Back in February the GSA announced that the FBI would remain housed in its current location in an outdated building despite the fact that studies showed that moving the headquarters to another location would be both more secure and less costly. At the time the GSA downplayed the influence of the White House on the decision and claimed that the most cost-effective option was keeping the HQ in Washington DC.
The investigation by the Inspector General, however, states that President Trump and other White House staff met with senior FBI and GSA officials to discuss the issue before the decision to keep the HQ in its current location was made. The investigation also showed that keeping the FBI housed in its current building would indeed be more expensive than moving to a new facility.
The report adds additional support to the claims from some Democratic lawmakers that Trump is obsessed with keeping the FBI close to his hotel to ensure a steady flow of traffic and business to the property.
Representative Gerry Connolly (D-VA), the congressman who originally requested the GSA inspector general report, released a statement today saying that it proves Trump was involved.
“When we began this investigation, the prospect that President Trump was personally involved in the government-led redevelopment of a property in close proximity to the Trump Hotel was dismissed as a conspiracy theory,” Connolly said in the statement. “Now, the president’s involvement in this multi-billion-dollar government procurement which will directly impact his bottom line has been confirmed by the White House Press Secretary and government photographs.”
Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) took to Twitter to point out the administration’s attempt at deception.
Just in: Despite efforts by the Administration to dodge the truth, @GSA_OIG sent us a report confirming that Trump was in previously undisclosed meetings about the relocation of the FBI HQ. And despite telling Congress the plan changed to save money, the numbers don't add up. https://t.co/K8XZ8KdAfK
— Chris Van Hollen (@ChrisVanHollen) August 27, 2018
The GSA itself continues to reject the findings of its own Inspector General that GSA Administrator Emily Murphy lied to Congress when she claimed that she never met with Trump and other White House officials before making the decision, issuing a statement rejecting the IG’s report.
“The FBI made the decision to keep its headquarters on Pennsylvania Avenue,” the GSA statement says. “GSA is unaware of any White House involvement in the FBI’s decision. Further, GSA stands by the cost analysis in its revised plan, as those numbers are accurate, transparent, and more representative of the full costs of the project than the analysis put forth in the IG review.”
Congressman Anthony Brown (D-MD) finds the Inspector General’s report more credible than the GSA’s denial.
“The GSA Office of Inspector General’s review of the revised plan for the FBI headquarters consolidation project confirms what I long suspected: heavy-handed involvement by the White House; faulty and misleading analysis of President Trump’s preference to keep the FBI in its old crumbling facility; and, a nefarious lack of transparency and accountability with Congress,” Brown said in a statement.
“The OIG’s review raises serious concerns that President Trump has politicized this national security project in a way that hurts the men and women of the FBI — an agency he has long attacked — and protects his bottom line,” he added.
With a president who has consistently placed his own personal interests above the interests of the nation as a whole, this latest revelation simply adds to the long list of reasons that a Democratic Congress needs to be elected in November to hold Trump accountable for his misdeeds.
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