President Trump, FBI Headquarters and the Conflict of Interest

FBI Headquaters

The Democrats’ campaign to investigate President Trump in the case concerning alleged interference by Russian authorities in the Presidential elections of 2016 appears to have been complemented by another investigation concerning the relocation of FBI headquarters.

Before eyeing the US Presidency, Trump had been a vocal advocate of relocating the FBI nerve center to a suburb in Washington, owing to its crumbling state and lack of space for thousands of employees. He had allegedly eyed the site for his own commercial investment. After he became president, he was disqualified from bidding to acquire the current FBI headquarters for commercial development, and hence, backtracked from his original argument. Gerald Connolly, one of the few senior Democrats who advised against an impeachment motion against the Commander-in-Chief, is of the opinion that the abrupt cancellation of plans to build new FBI headquarter in the suburban area of the Capital metropolis is a “prime subject of exploration”.

Connolly and Elijah Cummings are expected to lead the House Oversight Committee and have argued that there is compelling evidence that the General Services Administrator Emily Murphy (who oversees the upkeep of federal government buildings), White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and the President himself had a discussion regarding the fate of the FBI headquarters in the Oval Office and through e-mails. Connolly further threatened to summon Murphy for a Congressional enquiry and seek testimony for the same.

The President now favors replacing the old FBI Headquarters with a new commercial structure, barely a block away from the Trump International Hotel on Washington’s prime location, at the Pennsylvania Avenue. This clearly manifests in a conflict of interest between Trump’s commercial and executive functions.

In an attempt to downplay the entire fiasco, the GSA press secretary told the media that the project was shelved due to lack of Congressional funding. She further added that the FBI leadership had made a decision to stay at their current location.

Rep. Connolly also referred to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigations about the alleged interference of the Kremlin colluding with the President’s campaign, thereby hinting at tougher days for the President and his administration, once the Democrats take control of the House in January. He also said that in case any discrepancies appear, then he may be constitutionally obliged to support an impeachment motion against Trump. Moscow vehemently denies these accusations.

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