Trump Falsely Claims Biden Administration Was ‘Locked & Loaded’ to Kill Him - The World News

Trump Falsely Claims Biden Administration Was ‘Locked & Loaded’ to Kill Him

Former President Donald J. Trump accused the Biden administration on Tuesday of having been prepared to kill him during a 2022 search for classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, his private club and residence in Palm Beach, Fla., making the false claim that President Biden was “locked & loaded” in a fund-raising email.

The claim relied on a misrepresentation of a standard Justice Department policy on the use of deadly force in its operations.


“BIDEN’S DOJ WAS AUTHORIZED TO SHOOT ME! It’s just been revealed that Biden’s DOJ was authorized to use DEADLY FORCE for their DESPICABLE raid in Mar-a-Lago. You know they’re just itching to do the unthinkable … Joe Biden was locked & loaded ready to take me out & put my family in danger.”

— Mr. Trump, in a fund-raising email

This is misleading.

Mr. Trump was referring to a document that was made public Tuesday in a court filing in the criminal case regarding his handling of classified materials.

The document, on Page 11 of an evidentiary exhibit, described the F.B.I.’s plans for its court-authorized search in August 2022, and included a standard statement from the Justice Department’s policy on the use of deadly force. The F.B.I. is an agency of the Justice Department.

That statement says deadly force is allowed “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.” It specifies that such force is not permissible to prevent a person from fleeing, to disable a moving vehicle or to stop someone who poses a threat only to themselves or to property.

The policy in the exhibit is nearly identical to the standard policy on the Justice Department’s website, with only minor wording changes that do not affect its meaning — for example, “fired” instead of “discharged” in reference to a firearm. That policy applies to every F.B.I. operation, and its inclusion in plans for the Mar-a-Lago search was ordinary.

“The F.B.I. 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,” the F.B.I. said in a statement. “No one ordered additional steps to be taken, and there was no departure from the norm in this matter.”

Brian Hughes, a spokesman for the Trump campaign, doubled down on Wednesday, claiming the F.B.I. had been forced “to put out a statement to make it sound like authorizing the use of deadly force at the home of the former president, who is protected by Secret Service, is perfectly normal.”

The language in the document, however, was a reiteration of department policy limiting force.

Mr. Trump repeated his claims in a similar post on his social media website on Tuesday. A court filing from Mr. Trump’s legal team also misrepresented the policy. It said the F.B.I.’s plans “stated, for example, ‘Law enforcement officers of the Department of Justice may use deadly force when necessary’” — omitting “only” before “when necessary.” It also omitted language explaining that such force is limited to cases involving an imminent threat of death or serious injury.

The F.B.I. conducted the search on a day when Mr. Trump was out of town and the club at Mar-a-Lago was closed. A former assistant F.B.I. director, Steven D’Antuono, testified to a House committee last June that, before the search, the bureau had communicated with the Secret Service “to make sure we could get into Mar-a-Lago with no issues,” and that everyone involved had agreed to avoid “a show of force.”

Michael Gold, Glenn Thrush and Charlie Savage contributed reporting.

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