President Biden insisted Wednesday that he had “zero” advanced warning of the FBI’s Aug. 8 raid on Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate — after it emerged his administration had called in the feds to examine an initial haul of classified documents retrieved from the 45th president earlier this year.
“I didn’t have any advance notice,” Biden said in response to a question from Fox News correspondent Peter Doocy.
“None, zero, not one single bit,” the president added after wrapping up a speech on his student loan debt relief plans.
Biden’s response came a day after public government correspondence with Trump’s legal team revealed the White House counsel’s office had asked the National Archives on April 11 to “provide the FBI access” to the initial batch of 15 boxes seized from Mar-a-Lago. It is unclear whether Biden himself knew or approved of that request.
In a May 10 letter, which was only made public this week, acting archivist Debra Steidel Wall had told Trump lawyer Evan Corcoran that she would turn the documents over to federal investigators and ignore the former president’s claims of executive privilege.
Weeks earlier, the former president’s lawyers had sought additional time to review the contents of the boxes before the National Archives turned them over to the FBI.
Corcoran had said he wanted to see if any specific document was subject to executive privilege — and therefore exempt from disclosure, according to Wall’s letter.
In the missive, Wall rejected that claim, saying Supreme Court precedent “strongly suggests that a former President may not successfully assert executive privilege ‘against the very Executive Branch in whose name the privilege is invoked.’”
Wall added that the Justice Department had “no precedent for an assertion of executive privilege by a former President against an incumbent President to prevent the latter” from obtaining from the National Archives presidential records that belong to the federal government.
The letter — posted on the National Archives website on Tuesday after being published late Monday by JustTheNews — said the FBI would have access to the records beginning May 12.
The National Archives revealed in February that it had asked the Justice Department to investigate after finding classified material among the 15 boxes taken from Mar-a-Lago earlier this year.
The day after Wall’s letter, a grand jury issued a subpoena for documents bearing classification markings that were still held by Trump. Then, on June 3, DOJ and FBI officials arrived at Mar-a-Lago to retrieve documents from the former president’s attorneys.
The FBI obtained a search warrant on Aug. 5 on the belief additional classified materials were still being stored at Mar-a-Lago.
When federal agents raided Trump’s estate three days later, they seized 27 boxes of materials, including 11 sets of classified documents that were labeled top secret, secret, or confidential.
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