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Biden didn't know about FBI search of Trump's Mar-a-Lago ahead of time, White House says

More details on FBI search of Trump's Mar-a-Lago home
FBI searched Trump's home for suspected classified material 03:49

Washington — President Biden was not aware the FBI would be conducting a search of former President Donald Trump's South Florida residence of Mar-a-Lago on Monday and learned about the events through news reports, the White House said.

"We learned about this, the president learned about this, just like you all did, through the public reports," White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, told reporters Tuesday. "And we learned about this just like the American people did."

Asked whether the White House was aware of the search warrant or whether Mr. Biden has been briefed in the aftermath of the search, Jean-Pierre said he was not.

Mr. Biden "was not aware of it, no. No one at the White House was given a heads-up," she said. "That did not happen."

U.S. officials confirm the search of Trump's home was approved by the highest levels of the Justice Department. Attorney General Merrick Garland is not expected to make any public statements about the investigation or the search, however. 

The timing of the search warrant is not linked to Justice Department policy regarding further approval for cases involving political figures, a source said. Justice Department prosecutors have been reminded of the department's guidance steering them toward the Public Integrity Section of the Criminal Division, should they have cases involving political figures in the weeks leading up to an election. This rule does not apply to Trump, who is not on the ballot for the midterm elections. He has been hinting that he may be a candidate for the presidency in 2024. 

Trump revealed Monday night that his Palm Beach resort was being "raided" by FBI agents, and sources confirmed to CBS News that the search was connected to a Justice Department investigation prompted by the National Archives and Records Administration earlier this year that involves Trump's handling of presidential records.

The National Archives said it retrieved 15 boxes of presidential records, some of which contained classified material, from Mar-a-Lago in mid-January.

While executing the search warrant Monday, the FBI took boxes and documents, two sources confirmed to CBS News, and no electronics were taken.

Trump denounced the FBI's search as "not necessary or appropriate," and Republicans were outraged by the event, with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy pledging to investigate it if the GOP retakes the majority in the House in November's midterm elections.

Many Republicans accused the Justice Department of launching a politically motivated attack against Trump, who is expected to mount another bid for the White House in 2024, though there is no indication the FBI's search was part of any effort to target a political adversary.

Jean-Pierre repeatedly stressed to reporters at the White House press briefing that investigations by the Justice Department are conducted independently and declined to comment on any ongoing investigations.

"President Biden has been unequivocal since the campaign, he believes in the rule of law, in the independence of the Justice Department investigations, that those investigations should be free from political influence, and he has held that commitment as president," she said.

Jeff Pegues contributed to this report.

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