Pelosi, Schumer accuse Trump of self-dealing with money for FBI headquarters
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Monday accused President Trump of self-dealing in pressing Senate Republicans to include in their coronavirus relief proposal $1.75 billion to rebuild the FBI headquarters on Pennsylvania Avenue in downtown Washington.
Democrats suspect Trump is pressing for the money to rebuild the FBI headquarters in downtown D.C. so that it doesn’t move out from its space on 9th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue and leave open a prime piece of real estate that could be occupied by a new hotel that would pose serious competition to the Trump International Hotel across the street.
“They don’t have money for food stamps, but they have money for an FBI building just so that they can diminish competition for the president’s hotel,” Pelosi said to reporters after meeting with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows on Monday evening.
Pelosi later told reporters that Trump wants to refurbish the FBI headquarters on Pennsylvania Avenue “so that nobody could build a hotel across the street” from the Trump International Hotel.
Schumer also dinged the president over the earmark.
“They managed to have enough money for $2 billion for the FBI headquarters that benefits Trump hotel, and they say they have no money for food assistance. What the heck is going on?” Schumer said.
“We just found out it was in it as we read it,” he said, describing the surprise of finding the FBI provision buried in the GOP proposal.
Pelosi and Schumer asked the senior White House officials about rebuilding the FBI headquarters at the meeting.
Even Senate Republicans didn’t seem thrilled about adding money for a new FBI headquarters at a time when they’ve tried to keep out provisions not directly related to responding to the pandemic.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters during a press conference earlier Monday that he was not aware the money for the FBI headquarters was included.
“You’ll have to ask them why they insisted that be included,” he said, pointing reporters to the White House.
Asked why the special earmark for the FBI was included in the Republican proposal, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) told reporters, “Good question.”
“This is an administration proposal to move on with the FBI. They need a new FBI building. It’s not safe to work in, and they’re talking about downsizing it anyway,” he said.
But the senior GOP lawmaker conceded the “link” between the pandemic and the need for a new FBI headquarters is a “stretch.”
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