In the immediate aftermath of the unprecedented FBI raid on former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence to retrieve classified documents and presidential records he had retained — which was viewed by many Americans as politically motivated against Biden’s top rival — President Joe Biden’s White House insisted he had no involvement in or advanced knowledge of what was to occur.
That outright denial may have been exposed as a lie, however, as a letter has since revealed that Biden authorized the National Archives and Records Administration to waive Trump’s executive privilege claims and provide certain documents to the FBI for its investigation, the Daily Caller reported.
In fact, it could be argued that but for Biden’s waiving of Trump’s privilege, the FBI may never have been able to launch a full investigation into the matter or develop probable cause to apply for and receive the search warrant ahead of the Aug. 8 raid on Mar-a-Lago.
Biden White House insists no knowledge or involvement in Trump raid
One day after the FBI raid occurred, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre fended off and dodged numerous questions about the FBI raid and repeatedly insisted that President Biden had not been briefed, had no advance knowledge, and ultimately had nothing whatsoever to do with the criminal investigation launched by the purportedly thoroughly “independent” Justice Department and FBI.
Jean-Pierre’s repeated denials don’t quite square with what was contained in a May 10 letter addressed to one of Trump’s attorneys from Acting Archivist Debra Steidel Wall that has since been publicly revealed.
That letter, first reported on by Just the News, dealt with a request from Trump’s attorneys for an additional delay prior to NARA turning over to the FBI for review some 15 boxes containing classified documents that had been voluntarily returned to NARA by Trump’s team in January, with that requested delay being necessary in order for Trump’s lawyers to first review the documents and assert executive privilege, if applicable.
Biden waived Trump’s privilege claims, cleared path for FBI investigation/raid
However, Wall wrote in the letter, “The Counsel to the President has informed me that, in light of the particular circumstances presented here, President Biden defers to my determination, in consultation with the Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel, regarding whether or not I should uphold the former President’s purported ‘protective assertion of executive privilege.'”
She then proceeded to lay out how there didn’t appear to be any precedent for a former president to successfully assert their executive privilege against a current president, and instead cited a 1977 court case involving former President Richard Nixon to assert that the opposite was true — former presidents have no basis whatsoever to assert their executive privilege against a current president.
“I have therefore decided not to honor the former President’s ‘protective’ claim of privilege,” Wall concluded. “For the same reasons, I have concluded that there is no reason to grant your request for a further delay before the FBI and others in the Intelligence Community begin their reviews. Accordingly, NARA will provide the FBI access to the records in question, as requested by the incumbent President, beginning as early as Thursday, May 12, 2022.”
In other words, as this letter makes clear, despite the insistence from the White House that Biden had no involvement in or knowledge of the FBI investigation of Trump’s retention of classified documents and presidential records, it was in fact him who intervened on behalf of the FBI and waived Trump’s executive privilege without his consent in order to allow the FBI to proceed with its probe of his chief political rival.
That’s, um, not how this is supposed to work
“I was very surprised,” Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz told Just the News of what was revealed in Wall’s letter. “The current president should not be able to waive the executive privilege of a predecessor, without the consent of the former president. Otherwise, [privilege] means nothing. What president will ever discuss anything in private if he knows the man who beat him can and will disclose it.”
“The best thinking is that an incumbent president cannot waive the right of the previous president,” he added. “It would make a mockery of the whole notion of privilege.”