At the White House press briefing on Tuesday, press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the Biden administration was not aware of the FBI's raid on Mar-a-Lago before it happened.
- The FBI is serving 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?
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE: No. The president was not briefed, was not aware of it. No. No one at the White House was given a heads up. No, that did not happen.
- Is the White House at all concerned, given the domestic political climate, but also the signal that it sends to the rest of the world, that the Department of Justice carried out this sort of operation on a former president, that it could even create the appearance of politically motivated prosecutors?
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE: So first off, and you've heard us say this many times at this podium, you've heard the president say this-- the Justice Department conducts investigations independently. And we leave any law enforcement matters to them. It would not be appropriate for us to comment on any ongoing investigations. I can say that 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. I want to also remind you all of what he said on January 7 of 2021, when he then nominated Merrick Garland to be the attorney general. And I quote, "we need to restore the honor, the integrity of the independence of the Department of Justice in this nation that has been so badly damaged.
And so many former leaders of that department in both parties have so testified and stated that. I want to be clear to those who lead this department who you will serve. You won't work for me. You are not the president or the vice president's lawyer. Your loyalty is not to me.
It's to the law, the Constitution, the people of this, nation to guarantee justice," end quote. So I would refer you to the Department of Justice.
PETER DOOCY: Is there a concern here that if you guys don't say more than these Republicans who are accusing this White House of weaponizing the Justice Department, weaponizing the FBI, that's going to become the public sentiment-- if you guys don't say once and for all, we are not doing that?
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE: First of all, we're just not going to comment on a Department of Justice investigation. We're just not going to comment.
PETER DOOCY: Is this White House weaponizing the Justice Department and the FBI against political opponents?
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE: The president has been very clear from before he was elected-- very clear on this-- hold on, throughout his time in office.
PETER DOOCY: I heard the quote. We will be playing the quote tonight at 6:00. Is this administration weaponizing the Justice Department and the FBI against political opponents?
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE: Peter, the president believes in the rule of law. The president believes in the independence of the Department of Justice.
PETER DOOCY: It's a yes or no.
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE: No, it's a yes or a no for you. I'm answering the question. You may not like it, but I'm answering the question. I'm-- no, no. I'm answering the question and I'm telling you that we are not going to comment on a criminal investigation.
The president has been very clear, I laid out what his thoughts were back on January 7 in 2021 about how he saw the Department of Justice. And I'm just going to leave it there. We are not going to comment from here, from this White House, on a criminal investigation that is currently happening.