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White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre says neither President Joe Biden nor anyone at the White House “was given a heads up” about the FBI’s search of former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence.
Watch the briefing in the player above.
“No, that did not happen,” Jean-Pierre. She told reporters the West Wing first learned of the search from public media reports and the White House had not been briefed in the run-up or aftermath.
Jean-Pierre refused to say whether Biden wanted the attorney general to explain publicly the rationale for the search amid the concerns about politicization of the probe.
“The Justice Department conducts investigations independently and we leave any law enforcement matters to them,” she said. “We are not involved.”
READ MORE: House panel investigates Trump presidential records found in Mar-a-Lago
The search was part of an investigation into whether Trump took classified records from the White House to his Florida residence, people familiar with the matter said, a dramatic and unprecedented escalation of law enforcement scrutiny of the former president.
The New York Times and NPR, among other media outlets, have also reported the search seems to be related to an investigation into materials Trump took to his private club and residence when he left the White House.
Trump, disclosing the search in a lengthy statement, asserted that agents had opened a safe at his home and described their work as an “unannounced raid” that he likened to “prosecutorial misconduct.” He was in New York, planning to meet later Tuesday at his Bedminster, New Jersey, club with members of the Republican Study Committee, a group headed by Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana that says it is committed to putting forth his priorities in Congress.
Monday’s search intensified the months-long probe into how classified documents ended up in boxes of White House records located at Mar-a-Lago earlier this year. A separate grand jury is investigating efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, and it all adds to potential legal peril for Trump as he lays the groundwork for another run.
Jean-Pierre also addressed Biden’s coughing fit during his remarks at the CHIPS and Science Act bill signing Tuesday morning, saying he is experiencing “the lingering effects of COVID.”
The ceremony was one of several public events Biden has scheduled since recovering from COVID-19, including a visit to flood-ravaged Kentucky on Monday and another signing event on Wednesday for legislation aiding veterans who have suffered from toxic burn pits.
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