Trump’s Focus on a Washington Building Project Draws Scrutiny

Ms. Murphy, a Trump appointee, said the F.B.I. had wanted to “put the J. Edgar Hoover site back into play,” and requested that her agency consider renovating the existing headquarters. Her agency did not like that idea, so it suggested demolishing the building and constructing a new headquarters on the site instead.

In fact, the White House had been involved, at least between the decision to kill the original project and the announcement of the new plan, according to the review by the General Services Administration’s Office of Inspector General in response to Mr. Connolly’s request.

In December 2017, five months after the decision to cancel the original project, Ms. Murphy and another official from her agency met with the White House chief of staff, John F. Kelly, and the budget director, Mick Mulvaney, about the F.B.I. headquarters.

In January, she met at the White House with Mr. Kelly and Mr. Mulvaney, along with Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, and Christopher A. Wray, the F.B.I. director. Then the group met with Mr. Trump in the Oval Office.

Precisely what transpired in that meeting is unclear. But according to the inspector general’s report, an official at the General Services Administration sent an email a few days later that referred to “what POTUS directed everyone to do” and “POTUS’s orders.” Another official from the agency wrote in an email about delivering “the project the president wants on the timetable he wants it done.”

Mr. Trump made clear over several months that he wanted to be involved with the F.B.I. project, two former Trump administration officials said.

The president could not understand, they said, why people wanted to relocate the bureau’s headquarters to Maryland or Virginia. Among his concerns was that the F.B.I. was giving up what one of the former officials called “an iconic address.” Mr. Trump told Mr. Kelly that he had a strong personal interest in the project and would take opportunities to weigh in on it, the former officials said.

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