Since the beginning of his presidency, Donald Trump has had a somewhat complicated relationship with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Now, it seems like the president has a new bone to pick with the Bureau — and it's all about appearances. According to Axios, Trump reportedly hates how the FBI building looks and wants to completely revamp it. However, thus far, no concrete plans exist for an FBI building overhaul.
Axios reported on Sunday that, for the past few months, Trump has repeatedly mentioned re-modeling the J. Edgar Hoover FBI Building during appropriations meetings. Indeed, the outlet noted that, when discussing the FBI, Trump said during one of these meetings, "Even the [FBI] building is terrible ... It's one of the brutalist-type buildings, you know, brutalist architecture. Honestly, I think it's one of the ugliest buildings in the city."
In response to Axios' request for comment, the White House indicated that Trump is interested in making changes to the building. It also noted that he has been exploring the issue along with the General Services Administration, an agency that helps manage the functioning of other federal agencies. As a senior White House official told Axios:
POTUS has interest in the issue and has met with FBI officials, but more importantly the GSA [General Services Administration] team. GSA has concerns that the building can't be rehabilitated particularly given the security requirements and has relayed that to him.
Axios also reported that White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders responded to its story on Trump's reported interest in re-doing the FBI building. In her response, Sanders emphasized that the president has particular interest in building work because of his professional background. As Sanders asserted,
POTUS is always interested in building because he knows it better than anyone and has been very successful in it. He's found GSA to be on it, 'very impressive' and 'knowledgeable' are the phrases he has used.
This does not constitute the first time that the Trump administration has discussed reconstructing the FBI building. According to the Los Angeles Times, back in February the White House noted that it was planning to ask Congress for around $2.2 billion for a new FBI building. The paper reported at the time that the funds would be used to tear down the existing building and erect a new one in the same location. It also noted that, previously, the FBI spent several years researching potential alternate locations for its headquarters, but the Trump administration ultimately decided that the teardown option would be more economical.
The current FBI building was named after the first director of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover, and has been in its current location since 1975. It has been in disarray for some time, with Reuters reporting that it has nets around parts of the perimeter to catch potential falling stones. The Los Angeles Times also noted that the building's infrastructure does not allow it to effectively house the latest digital technologies or be fully protected from all security vulnerabilities.
As Axios noted, thus far Congress has not appropriated any money toward the construction of a new FBI building. The FBI has also not yet submitted any plans for the building to Congress. However, if construction does indeed occur at some point, it seems as though President Trump reportedly would like to be highly involved in the process. As Axios noted, the president supposedly told his chief of staff that he wishes to oversee much of the minutiae of the renovation process, such as discussing building materials.