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President Biden on Wednesday said he “didn’t have any advance notice” of the FBI’s unprecedented raid on former President Trump’s private residence at Mar-a-Lago earlier this month.
“I didn’t have any advance notice,” Biden said after making remarks from the White House on Wednesday about his administration’s plan to cancel student loan debt. “None. Zero. Not one single bit.”
The White House has repeatedly said Biden learned about the FBI’s raid on Trump’s private residence through public reports “just like the American people did,” while stressing the president’s commitment to Justice Department investigations “free of political influence.”
BIDEN SIGNED OFF ON FBI REVIEW OF TRUMP RECORDS, NATIONAL ARCHIVES LETTER REVEALS
Fox News reported this week, though, that the Biden White House, at the request of the Justice Department, signed off to have the FBI and the intelligence community examine hundreds of pages of classified documents Trump turned over to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) this spring, a newly surfaced government letter revealed.
Debra Wall, NARA’s acting head, penned a letter to Trump attorney Evan Corcoran on May 10 revealing federal officials had been negotiating for months with the Trump team over whether federal law enforcement and intelligence officials should be allowed to conduct a national security review or whether the material should be shielded under Trump’s purported assertion of executive privilege.
The letter, posted Tuesday on the NARA website, indicates the Biden administration did not believe a former president could assert executive privilege over material that, by law, had to be turned over to NARA.
“NARA identified items marked as classified national security information, up to the level of Top Secret and including Sensitive Compartmented Information and Special Access Program materials,” Wall wrote in the letter.
“NARA informed the Department of Justice about that discovery, which prompted the Department to ask the President to request that NARA provide the FBI with access to the boxes at issue so that the FBI and others in the Intelligence Community could examine them.”
Wall indicated the archive’s initial review of 15 boxes handed over by Trump in January 2022 included more than 100 classified documents totaling more than 700 pages and included some documents labeled “Sensitive Compartmented Information” and some labeled “Special Access Program,” which only a limited number of people are authorized to view in a secure facility.
Wall said she then sought guidance from the White House and Justice Department on how to proceed as Trump, at the time, claimed executive privilege.
JUDGE REINHART FORMALLY REJECTS DOJ ARGUMENT TO KEEP TRUMP AFFIDAVIT SEALED, CALLS RAID ‘UNPRECEDENTED’
“The Counsel to the President has informed me that, in light of the particular circumstances presented here, President Biden defers to my determination, in consultation with the Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel, regarding whether or not I should uphold the former President’s purported ‘protective assertion of executive privilege,'” Wall wrote.
Wall notified Trump in May that the National Archives would give the FBI access to the records in question.
“I have concluded that there is no reason to grant your request for a further delay before the FBI and others in the Intelligence Community begin their reviews,” Wall wrote to Trump in May. “Accordingly, NARA will provide the FBI access to the records in question, as requested by the incumbent President, beginning as early as Thursday, May 12, 2022.”
Administration officials privately defend the document review process, saying the Justice Department, by law, cannot make unilateral decisions about executive privilege, and that, ultimately, the sitting president decides. Those officials said Biden’s decision to defer to NARA and the DOJ was fully consistent with his executive authority.
During the raid earlier this month, the FBI seized classified records, including some marked as top secret.
Fox News first reported last week that FBI agents seized boxes containing records covered by attorney-client privilege and potentially executive privilege during the raid.
TRUMP FILES MOTION SEEKING INDEPENDENT REVIEW OF DOCS SEIZED DURING FBI RAID ON MAR-A-LAGO
Trump and his legal team filed a motion Monday evening seeking an independent review of the records seized by the FBI during its “unprecedented” and “unnecessary” raid, saying the decision to search his private residence just months before the 2022 midterm elections “involved political calculations aimed at diminishing the leading voice in the Republican Party, President Trump.”
According to the motion filed Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Trump and his legal team are seeking an order to appoint a special master to review the records obtained during the search; to block the further review of seized materials by the government until a special master is appointed; to require the Justice Department to provide a more detailed receipt for property; and to require the government to return any item seized that was not within the scope of the search warrant.
A Department of Justice “taint” or “filter” team has been reviewing documents seized by the FBI during its raid on former President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home, Fox News has learned.
A senior law enforcement official familiar with the process told Fox News that the review began soon after the search warrant was executed on Aug. 8.
The official said that it is standard procedure for the Justice Department to use a “taint” or “filter” team to go through documents obtained during a search — in part to identify records that may be protected by attorney-client privilege.
The Justice Department’s use of a “taint” or “filter” team, while standard procedure, could complicate Trump’s legal team’s efforts for the appointment of an independent special master to examine the seized records, as it is likely they have already been inspected by DOJ officials.
Fox News’ Bill Mears and David Spunt contributed to this report.
Source URL: https://www.foxnews.com/politics/biden-said-he-did-not-have-advance-notice-of-fbi-raid-on-trumps-mar-a-lago-none-zero