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Photo: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images

Trump is obsessed with the FBI building. For months now, in meetings with White House officials and Senate appropriators intended to discuss big-picture spending priorities, the president rants about the graceless J. Edgar Hoover Building in downtown Washington, D.C.

Behind the scenes: In the midst of one rant about the FBI, he lit into the building. "Even the building is terrible," he observed to an Axios source. "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."

  • Another source said he was dead opposed to plans to move it out of D.C. "This is prime real estate, right on Pennsylvania Avenue," he said. "This is a great address. They need to stay there. But it needs a total revamp."
  • That source said Trump told Chief of Staff John Kelly he wants to oversee the project at an excruciating level of detail: the cost per square foot, the materials used, the renovation specs, etc. He's treating it like it's a Trump Organization construction project, the source added.

The White House response: In response to my emails about this story, a senior official said, "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."

  • What's next? The FBI hasn't submitted a plan for a new building to Congress, and Congress hasn't appropriated any money for the project. The senior official added that the FBI leadership and work force would prefer to stay in D.C. and "are working with GSA for optimum design for the Bureau's needs and at lowest budget, fastest timetable, etc." 

Be smart: To risk stating the obvious, it's highly unusual for the president of the United States to micromanage a building project.

  • Responding to this story, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said: "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."

Go deeper

Mike Allen, author of AM
21 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Fauci's offensive against "craziness"

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

After becoming a top punching bag for the right, Dr. Anthony Fauci is defending himself with a sharp new edge, arguing that an attack on him is an attack on science.

What he's saying: In comments to Kara Swisher on her New York Times "Sway" podcast, shared first with Axios, Fauci says: "It is essential as a scientist that you evolve your opinion and your recommendations based on the data as it evolves. ... And that's the reason why I say people who then criticize me about that are actually criticizing science."

Afghanistan's president coming to Washington on Friday

Ashraf Ghani, left, president of Afghanistan, and Abdullah Abdullah, chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation. Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

As the U.S. troop withdrawal accelerates, President Biden will welcome Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, chairman of Afghanistan’s High Council for National Reconciliation, at the White House on Friday.

Our thought bubble: Axios politics editor Glen Johnson, who traveled to Afghanistan while working for Secretary of State John Kerry, said inviting both Ghani and Abdullah to Washington shows the administration’s respect for the delicate balance of power in the country.

Educators face fines, harassment over critical race theory

People talk before the start of a rally against critical race theory being taught in schools at the Loudoun County Government center in Leesburg, Va. Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

Elementary school teachers, administrators and college professors are facing fines, physical threats, and fear of firing because of an organized push from the right to remove classroom discussions of systemic racism.

Why it matters: Moves to ban critical race theory are raising free speech concerns amid an absence of consistent parameters about what teachings are in or out of bounds.