Fact check: Judge’s order does not show Biden ordered FBI search

Judge Aileen Cannon’s Monday order authorizing the appointment of a special master does not contain proof that President Joe Biden approved the FBI’s raid on former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home, according to “fact-checkers.”

In this rare instance, the “fact-checkers” are correct.

The claim that the order contains said proof emerged after several voices on the right cropped the words “as requested by the incumbent President” out of the order and began bandying it about as proof of President Joe Biden’s involvement.

Case in point:

But this is false framing, according to the Associated Press.

“The phrase comes from a May letter from the National Archives denying Trump’s request to delay turning over documents to the FBI. The letter states that the archives made the FBI aware of the documents after determining some of them were considered highly classified. The FBI then requested permission from the White House to access the documents, which the Biden administration granted,” the AP notes.

But if you’re not inclined to just blindly believe the AP, then take a look at the more in-depth explanation below.

So for starters, on pages two and three of Cannon’s ruling, she wrote about the 15 boxes of documents that were retrieved from Mar-a-Lago in January.

“On April 12, 2022, NARA notified Plaintiff that it intended to provide the Fifteen Boxes to the Federal Bureau of Investigation the following week. Plaintiff then requested an extension on the contemplated delivery so that he could determine the existence of any privileged material. The White House Counsel’s Office granted the request,” she wrote.

“On May 10, 2022, NARA informed Plaintiff that it would proceed with ‘providing the FBI access to the records in question, as requested by the incumbent President, beginning as early as Thursday, May 12, 2022.’ The Government’s filing states that the FBI did not obtain access to the Fifteen Boxes until approximately May 18, 2022.”

In the second paragraph, Cannon quoted from the NARA letter mentioned by the AP.

So in other words, in April, the National Archives and Records Administration told Trump that it wanted to give the FBI access to the 15 boxes it’d retrieved in January.

Trump requested that NARA delay that order until it was determined whether the boxes contained any privileged materials, i.e., attorney-client documents, etc.

The White House initially approved the delay. In May, however, perhaps fed-up at being forced to wait, the White House reversed course and granted the FBI access to the 15 boxes, reportedly at the request of President Joe Biden.

The key here are the 15 boxes. They are what’s being discussed in this part of Cannon’s order. The problem is some on the right have taken the “as requested by the incumbent President” out of context and claimed it was in reference to the raid last month on Mar-a-Lago. This is false, according to both the AP and also American Wire’s own fact-check.

This doesn’t mean the president didn’t know about and/or approve the raid. But it does highlight the fact that as of early September, no legitimate proof has yet to emerge that he did know about and/or approve the raid.

Biden for his part has been adamant that he’d known nothing about the raid.

“I didn’t have any advance notice. None, zero. Not one single bit. Thank you,” he told Fox News’ Peter Doocy late last month.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre has said the same.

“The FBI has served a search warrant on the former President’s residence in Florida. Was the President or anyone at the White House aware of that search warrant? Or has anyone at the White House or the president been briefed in the aftermath of that search warrant being executed?” she was asked during an Aug. 9th press briefing.

“No. The President was not briefed, did not — was not aware of it. No. No one at the White House was given a heads up. No, that did not happen,” Jean-Pierre replied.

Listen:

As previously reported, Cannon’s Monday order authorized the appointment of a special master and further decreed that Department of Justice investigators may not inspect the classified documents retrieved from Mar-a-Lago until the special master has reviewed them first.

The decision provoked a massive outcry from the left, in addition to from former Trump-era Attorney General Bill Barr.

Speaking on Fox News this Tuesday, Barr speculated that the order will ultimately be overturned on appeal.

“The opinion [to appoint a special master], I think was wrong, and I think the government should appeal it. It’s deeply flawed in a number of ways. I don’t think the appointment of a special master is going to hold up,” he said.

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Vivek Saxena

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