Did Biden Know About FBI Search at Trump's Mar-a-Lago? What We Know

Former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago residence was raided by the FBI on Monday in a significant escalation into the various investigations the Department of Justice (DOJ) has launched into Trump's final days in the Oval Office.

The search prompted widespread criticism from those on the right, who accused the Biden administration of an abuse of authority. While the DOJ is led by a Biden official, Attorney General Merrick Garland, the director of the FBI, Christopher Wray, is a Trump appointee.

"The FBI raid of Mar-A-Lago is the most defining moment of the Joe Biden presidency. It was a political performance against Trump," GOP Representative Matt Gaetz, a staunch Trump ally, of Florida tweeted.

However, on Monday night, Bloomberg's Justin Sink reported that the Biden White House had not been given any advance notice of the raid.

Biden Trump FBI Raid
The Biden White House said it learned of the FBI raid on former President Donald Trump's Florida residence with the rest of the public and that administration officials did not receive advance notice from federal law enforcement agencies. Above, President Joe Biden appears on the South Lawn of the White House on August 9, 2022, in Washington, D.C. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

On Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said that President Joe Biden was not briefed on the FBI search, or aware of it at the time that it occurred, and that no one in the White House "got a head's up" about the plan from federal law enforcement agencies.

"The president and the White House learned about this FBI search from public reports," she said at a press briefing. "We learned just like the American public did yesterday and we did not have advanced notice of this activity."

"President Biden has been very clear from before he was elected president, and throughout his time in office, that the Justice Department conducts its investigations independently," Jean-Pierre added.

On Monday, a senior official had told CBS' Ed O'Keefe there was "No advance knowledge. Some learned from old media some from social media."

The New York Times' Jonathan Martin also reported that Biden's top aides found out about the search on Twitter and that other senior White House officials learned of the news from Trump.

The former president released a lengthy statement shortly before 7 p.m. confirming the raid in Palm Beach, Florida, that took place earlier in the day. The FBI said that investigators arrived in the morning and seized several boxes of classified documents. Trump was at Trump Tower in New York City at the time of the search.

The search appeared to be focused on classified material that Trump allegedly took with him from the White House after leaving office but belonged to the National Archives.

Speaking to CNN about the raid, former Trump White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said, "How to properly handle classified documents was not something that was really pressed upon us."

The request for a search warrant is made by the FBI if investigators conclude that information related to a criminal investigation could be found at someone's home, business or other property, but it does not indicate or accuse the subject of the warrant of any wrongdoing. It must be approved by a federal judge or magistrate before it is granted.

Update 8/9/22, 3:22 p.m. ET: This story was updated with comment from Jean-Pierre.