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President Joe Biden only found out about the FBI's search of Donald Trump's home at the Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, on Monday when the media began reporting it, the White House said this week.
"The President and the White House learned about this FBI search from public reports. We learned, just like the American public did yesterday, and we did not have advance notice of this activity," White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters Tuesday, one day after the FBI executed a magistrate-signed search warrant as part of its investigation into alleged mishandling of White House records.
But the former president's son, Eric Trump, isn't buying it.
"You see the press secretary out there today saying we had no knowledge of this at all," the former president's younger son said during an interview on Fox News. "Give me a break."
U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, a Biden appointee, outlined policies governing communications between the Justice Department and the White House in a July 2021 memo.
"The procedural safeguards that have long guided the Department's approach to such communications are designed to protect our criminal and civil law enforcement decisions, and our legal judgments, from partisan or other inappropriate influences, whether real or perceived, direct or indirect," Garland wrote, noting the longstanding norms of independence for the Department of Justice that stretch back decades.
Jean-Pierre reiterated the president's commitment to an independent DOJ during Tuesday's press briefing. "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," she said. "He believes in the rule of law … and we are nations of law."
Eric's skepticism, he indicated in the Fox News interview, is rooted in his experience at the White House during his father's presidency, which offers telling insight to how Trump viewed the DOJ and its history of independence conducting its investigations.
"Make no mistake," Eric said, "I know the White House as well as anyone. I spent a lot of time there; I know the system. This did not happen without Joe Biden's explicit approval. The White House approved of this. Mark my words … it will come out."
Eric Trump: I know the white house as well anyone. I know the system. This did not happen without Joe Biden's explicit approval. pic.twitter.com/HXodvDe6Qo
— Acyn (@Acyn) August 9, 2022
Jean-Pierre also said Tuesday that Biden didn't know about the federal search warrant the FBI obtained through a delicate and tightly defined legal process to search Trump's property; nor was he briefed on the search after it occurred.
"No one at the White House was given a heads-up," she said. "That did not happen."
"The Justice Department conducts investigations independently, and we leave any law enforcement matters to them," Jean-Pierre added, answering a follow-up question during the briefing. "It would not be appropriate for us to comment on any ongoing investigations."
Those assurances are clearly disregarded by the former president's son, who called the search part of an "absolute coordinated attack" during his animated interview.
"They wouldn't even think about doing this without the sign-off of the president of the United States," Eric said, referring to the FBI search. "This is raiding one of the most famous houses on planet earth, one of the most famous people — probably the most famous person on planet earth. Give me a break. Joe Biden absolutely signed off on this."