July 30, 2018

CREW sent a Freedom of Information Act request (FOIA) to the General Services Administration (GSA) today requesting records of communications between GSA and the White House concerning the renovation and planned move of the FBI headquarters from January 20, 2017 to the present.

The sudden and unexpected cancellation of the GSA’s “procurement for the new FBI headquarters consolidation project,” announced on July 11, 2017, generated criticism and controversy from experts and government officials. Members of Congress described the cancellation as “putt[ing] America’s national security at risk,” and local officials commented on the significant amount of “time and energy wasted.”

Recent revelations about President Trump’s unusual personal involvement in the cancellation of the planned move and desire to oversee the details of a renovation instead raise questions about the reason behind the intensity of his interest. Trump reportedly hates the brutalist style of the building’s architecture, and wants to treat the renovation of the headquarters like a Trump Organization project. His interest in renovating the building rather than moving it is especially questionable given the concerns of GSA “that the building can’t be rehabilitated particularly given the security requirements[.]” Keeping the FBI headquarters in the same location may appeal to President Trump because commercial buildings likely would have replaced the headquarters, increasing competition for the nearby Trump Hotel.

The requested records will help answer these questions and assist the public in evaluating the merits of the any renovation, which is expected to cost significantly more than relocating the FBI to a more secure location where virtually the entire FBI staff could be housed, as originally planned.

Read the FOIA request here.