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Biden did not order FBI to assassinate Trump
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Biden did not order FBI to assassinate Trump

  • PublishedMay 24, 2024


A form filled out prior to the 2022 search of Mar-a-lago contains boilerplate language reminding agents they can only use deadly force in limited circumstances.

Former President Donald Trump escalated his claims that he’s under illegal attack by the Biden administration on Tuesday, asserting the FBI was instructed to use deadly force when it searched Mar-a-lago in 2022 as part of the federal investigation into Trump’s handling of classified documents.

In a post on Truth Social, Trump said, “Joe Biden’s DOJ, in their illegal and unconstitutional raid of Mar-a-Lago, authorized the FB to use deadly (lethal) force. Now we know, for sure, that Joe Biden is a serious threat to democracy.”

Some of his allies in Congress took things a step further, claiming Biden ordered an “assassination” or “hit” on Trump.

“The Biden DOJ and FBI were planning to assassinate [President] Trump and gave the green light,” said Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) in a post on X.

Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) similarly posted, “Biden ordered the hit on Trump at Mar-a-Lago.”

THE QUESTION

Did the Biden administration tell the FBI to use deadly force against Donald Trump?

THE SOURCES

  • Court records from Trump’s classified documents case

  • Justice Manual

  • FBI forms obtained through the Freedom of Information Act by Government Attic, a free-speech group

THE ANSWER

This is false.

No, the Biden administration did not tell the FBI to use deadly force against Donald Trump.

WHAT WE FOUND

The false claims that the Biden administration ordered a “hit” on former president Donald Trump stem from a misinterpretation of boilerplate language found on a form used by the FBI prior to nearly all field operations, including the search of Mar-a-lago.

The form – officially called a “Law Enforcement Operations Order,” or FD-888 – was made public, with some redactions, when Trump’s lawyers entered it into evidence as an exhibit in the classified documents case.

Trump, in that case, has been charged with 37 counts of mishandling classified information, primarily related to documents he refused to turn over after he left the White House. Instead, he allegedly kept them in publicly accessible areas of Mar-a-lago, his Florida home and club.

In August 2022, the FBI obtained a search warrant to retrieve those documents from the premises. Before carrying out that warrant, agents filled out form FD-888, describing the details and operating procedure for the search.

One section of the form is labeled “Policy Statement Use Of Deadly Force” – but it is not a “green light” to use such force, as Trump’s allies claimed.

Instead, it is nearly the opposite. It’s a reminder to agents that they can only use deadly force in specific situations.

“Law enforcement officers of the Department of Justice may use deadly force only when necessary, that is, when the officer has a reasonable belief that the subject of such force poses an imminent danger of death or serious physical injury to the officer or to another person,” the first sentence of the statement reads.

The statement, with only minor changes, is copied directly from the Justice Manual, which is the manual that includes basic procedures and guidelines for employees of the Department of Justice, including FBI agents.

The FBI issued a statement in response to Trump’s claims, saying, “The FBI followed standard protocol in this search as we do for all search warrants, which includes a standard policy statement limiting the use of deadly force.”

Attorney General Merrick Garland also responded to the claims in a press conference Thursday.

“That allegation is false, and it is extremely dangerous,” he said. “The document that is being referred to in the allegation is the Justice Department standard policy limiting the use of force. As the FBI advises, it is part of the standard operations plan for searches. And in fact, it was even used in the consensual search of President Biden’s home.”

VERIFY also found evidence that deadly force policy statements are included on blank versions of form FD-888, and have been for years.

Following a Freedom of Information Request for commonly used FBI forms, the bureau released blank copies of several different forms, including FD-888, in 2004. The forms were then published by Government Attic, a free-speech group.

The blank form FD-888 includes a section spelling out the FBI’s deadly force policy at the time. Meaning, the deadly force policy statement was not specifically added for Trump or the Mar-a-lago search, it’s automatically printed on the paperwork before agents fill it out.

In addition, when the search was conducted, it was public knowledge that Trump was not at Mar-a-lago.

The Associated Press contributed to this reporting.

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johndweiner@gmail.com

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