Quigley: Sole Purpose of FBI Headquarters Decision is to Benefit Trump Hotel
CHICAGO – Yesterday, U.S. Representative Mike Quigley (IL-05), who serves as Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government and a Member on the House Intelligence Committee, joined CNN’s Wolf Blitzer to discuss President Trump’s involvement in scrapping a long-term plan to relocate the FBI headquarters. Click here to watch the video or see the transcript below.
In April, Rep. Quigley asked GSA Administrator Murphy, “To your knowledge, was the president or anyone else at the White House involved in those discussions, either with your predecessors, people you’re working with now, or yourself?” Contrary to sworn testimony from Administrator Murphy that she had no communications with President Trump or other White House officials about this decision, an official White House photo and newly revealed emails show otherwise.
BLITZER: Let's bring back Congressman Mike Quigley of Illinois, a Member of the intelligence committee. Congressman, you signed on to this letter asking for more information on the President's role in all of this, but even the e-mails that were already released from GSA officials mentioned direction from the White House, what POTUS directed everyone to do, and the President's instructions. So what else are you hoping to learn?
QUIGLEY: Well, let's understand something – [this past] April, I asked the GSA Administrator under oath whether the President or anyone at the White House was involved in the discussions on this decision about the FBI building. She said no. The Inspector General said that she misled us. I suppose that's a D.C. euphemism for a lie. I'd like her to come back before my subcommittee and answer that question accurately. Who was at that meeting in the White House when they made this decision? What was said? What did the President say? Was anything said about the Trump Hotel? The bottom line is as a result of this opaque administration, we are less safe and we're spending more money.
BLITZER: Because if they sell that property on Pennsylvania Avenue where the current FBI building is, they can sell that for hundreds of millions of dollars, which would dramatically reduce the cost of building a new FBI headquarters, whether in Maryland, suburban Maryland, or suburban Virginia. If you try to knock it down and rebuild it where it is right there, it's going to cost a lot more.
QUIGLEY: And we were told post-9/11 time, and again during Democratic and Republican administrations, that it is extraordinarily important for them to move out of that location for security reasons to have a bigger footprint, to have more operations there, to keep us safe, to deal with anti-terrorism strategies. So someone wants to tell me, someone wants to come before the committee or any other committee and explain how we're more safe, how it's cost-efficient to be downtown with this facility, I'm more than willing to listen. But the only logical answer at this point is that it doesn't keep us safe, doesn't save money, the only thing it does right now is benefit Trump Hotel. The President has not divested himself from this interest. In the end, when he stops being President of the United States, he gains to profit. The fact that there is not a hotel across the street competing with him, he is the one that profits.
BLITZER: Congressman Mike Quigley, thank you so much for joining us.
QUIGLEY: Any time. Thank you.
Based on the latest projections, the Trump Administration’s new proposal to rebuild the existing Pennsylvania Avenue facility could cost hundreds of millions of dollars more than the long-term relocation plan, but it would accommodate 2,306 fewer employees.
Yesterday, Rep. Quigley joined members in sending a letter to Administrator Murphy raising serious concerns about the decision.
“Given this background, President Trump should have avoided all interactions or communications relating to the FBI headquarters project to prevent both real and perceived conflicts of interest,” the Members wrote. “He should not have played any role in a determination that bears directly on his own financial interests with the Trump Hotel. The GSA also should have taken steps to wall off the decision from improper influence.”
You can read the full letter here.