DOJ inspector general reviewing FBI's 'sudden change of heart' after bureau scrapped plans to move headquarters to DC suburbs: report
Michael E. Horowitz, inspector general for the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), will be examining a decision by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to keep its headquarters in the heart of Washington, D.C. rather than moving them to a suburban location in Maryland or Virginia, the New York Times is reporting.
Horowitz will be reviewing the matter following a request by the Democratic heads of four committees or subcommittees in the House of Representatives. In an official joint statement on Wednesday, those Democrats asserted, “For months, our committees have investigated the administration’s sudden change of heart on a federal property across the street from the president’s namesake hotel. But because the FBI has withheld key decision-making documents from Congress, we have been left with many unanswered questions. We welcome the IG’s independent examination, which will supplement our ongoing effort to get to the truth.”
Previously, the FBI’s plan was to not only move its headquarters to somewhere near Washington, D.C. in Maryland or Virginia, but also, to move thousands of employees to its Huntsville, Alabama location — which is spacious and has room to add a lot more people. Instead, it chose to remain in Washington, D.C. Proper but replace the current J. Edgar Hoover Building, which is within walking distance of the White House and the National Mall. And this change occurred after Donald Trump became president: the Trump Administration announced that FBI headquarters would remain on its current site in a new building — and that the property where the J. Edgar Hoover Building is currently located would not be sold for commercial development.
One of the Trump Organization’s hotels is located near that property, and there is concern among Democrats that perhaps Trump didn’t want the hotel to have to compete with potential commercial development on the property where the J. Edgar Hoover Building is presently located.
FBI Director Christopher A. Wray, however, has stressed that remaining in Washington, D.C. is something the FBI wants — not just a whim of the president. In April, Wray testified before Congress that “it is absolutely the FBI’s view, the FBI’s choice, the FBI’s preference to build a new building” on its current site in the heart of the U.S. capital. One advantage of remaining in the heart of D.C., some FBI agents have said, is remaining close to other DOJ-associated offices rather than being miles away in the Maryland or Virginia suburbs.
The FBI's current building is named after the controversial J. Edgar Hoover, who served as FBI director from the mid-1930s until his death in 1972 at the age of 77.