The White House said Sunday that Republican allegations the Biden administration had politicized the Justice Department were “not true at all” after the FBI’s search of former President Donald Trump’s Florida resort, Mar-a-Lago, on Aug. 8.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre made the comments Sunday, telling ABC’s Jonathan Karl the search had been conducted as part of an independent investigation by the Justice Department, adding President Joe Biden only learned of it at the same time as the American public.
“When the president nominated Merrick Garland, he was very clear about this,” Jean-Pierre said. “He said that he believes in the rule of law. Merrick Garland would not be the president’s lawyer; he would not be the vice president’s lawyer; this is about the American people and doing what is right for the American people. The Department of Justice, when it comes to law enforcement, is independent. This is what we believe, and this is what the president has said. This is not about politicizing anything.”
Republicans have gone scorched earth after the FBI searched Mar-a-Lago in a shocking move against a former U.S. president on Monday amid reports Trump and his aides absconded with boxes of classified material. Some GOP lawmakers have promised retaliation against the DOJ after the raid, effectively suggesting Trump should be above the law in his role as a former president.
A federal judge unsealed the search warrant and property receipt on Friday amid criticism from Republicans, showing the former president is under investigation for possibly violating the Espionage Act. Agents removed around 20 boxes of materials from the residence, including 11 sets of classified documents. The Washington Post reported a day earlier the government was concerned highly classified material related to nuclear weapons may have been among the items in Trump’s possession.
The White House has largely refused to comment on the Justice Department’s inquiries into the Mar-a-Lago documents, and Jean-Pierre stressed the Biden administration would remain quiet as the probe continued.
“We do not interfere. We do not get briefed,” she said Sunday. “The Department of Justice, again, when it comes to law enforcement matters, it is independent, complete independence. And I’m just not going to comment on that. None of us will, because we’re going to let Merrick Garland speak for himself and his department.”
Jean-Pierre said any attempt by Republicans to criticize Biden’s role ignored the fact that the head of the FBI, Christopher Wray, was appointed by Trump himself in 2017.
“I would remind our folks on the other side,” Jean-Pierre said, “that the FBI director was appointed by the president’s predecessor.”