McEnany can’t say why FBI is making money in coronavirus stimulus bill

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“So it was part of the president’s priority to update the FBI building, to keep it in Washington, and that’s one of the things that was mentioned in this bill and it’s part of the ‘one of the president’s priorities and it is a priority. for several months, ”she said during an appearance on CBS News.

Asked again what this provision does in the coronavirus bill, McEnany couldn’t say, but said it was “not a dealbreaker.”

President Donald Trump said later Wednesday that a new FBI building had been under construction “for many years,” and he thought it was “crazy” that they were considering moving it to suburbs of Virginia or the United States. Maryland.

“I’m very good at real estate, so I said we would build a new FBI building, either a renovation of the existing one or even better, we will have a new building. So we have it in the bill, it should stay, ”Trump told reporters at the White House before he left for Texas.

The funding is opposed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, despite the Senate GOP stimulus proposal formally unveiled on Monday including it.

Pressed by a reporter on Tuesday on funding, McConnell responded by saying he hoped anything not directly related to Covid-19 will be removed before a new relief measure is passed.

The Kentucky Republican was unaware that the FBI provision was in the bill, but moments later, the White House “insisted it be included.”

A number of Senate Republicans have spoken out against the funding and pushed administration officials at their private lunch on Tuesday for its inclusion, which members said was not even linked to the coronavirus.

Asked by CNN’s Kaitlan Collins that Republicans don’t want it in the bill, Trump said, “Then Republicans should go back to school and learn. We need a new building. ”

McEnany said the president’s priority was unemployment benefits, not FBI building funding.

“Well, it’s in the bill, the president made it clear that’s what he wanted to see. It is not an agreement, the priority here is unemployment benefits as the president said and it is the ultimate priority, ”she said on Wednesday. adding that the president “fought hard” for a reduction in social charges and that the extension of unemployment benefits is “essential”.

Democrats have long claimed that Trump’s interest in the FBI building – which is across from the Trump Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC – was financial.

In 2018, Democrats on the House Oversight Committee wrote in a letter that Trump had a clear interest in developing FBI ownership prior to being president. After he became president and was not allowed to invest in the project, his interest became in ensuring that no other developer could buy the property, convert it and compete with the hotel. Trump, say the Democrats.

“Many years before becoming President, Donald Trump expressed interest in relocating the FBI headquarters from Washington, DC, so that he could acquire the land on Pennsylvania Avenue and redevelop the property, which sits directly across from the Trump International Hotel. However, after taking the oath of office as president – and becoming ineligible as a federal employee to secure the property – he reportedly became “totally opposed” to the sale of the property by the government, which would have allowed commercial developers compete directly with the Trump Hotel, ”the Democrats wrote in their October 2018 letter to General Service Administrator Emily Murphy.

CNN’s Clare Foran, Ted Barrett and Lauren Fox contributed to this report.

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