Trump email falsely says Biden was ‘locked & loaded’ to ‘take me out’ in Mar-a-Lago search

Donald Trump on Tuesday falsely claimed in a campaign fundraising email that President Biden was “locked & loaded ready to take me out” during a 2022 search of his Mar-a-Lago estate for classified documents, an extraordinary distortion of a standard FBI policy on the use of deadly force during such operations.

Trump appeared to be referring to a law enforcement document, released Tuesday in court filings in the classified documents case, that describes the FBI’s plans for a court-authorized search on Aug. 8, 2022, at Mar-a-Lago, his Florida residence and private club. FBI agents recovered classified material from Trump’s time in the White House - which the former president is now charged with illegally retaining. One page in the document includes a “policy statement” on the use of deadly force, which says officers may resort to lethal force only when the subject of such force poses an “imminent danger of death or serious physical injury” to an officer or another person.

Trump, the presumptive GOP nominee for president, and some of his allies suggested Tuesday that this was evidence that Biden’s Justice Department was prepared to fatally shoot him. In fact, Trump was not at his Florida property the day of the search. FBI agents specifically sought to avoid a confrontation with Trump, choosing a day when Trump would not be at the property and giving the Secret Service a heads-up, The Washington Post previously reported.

A former president falsely accusing his successor and rival of posing a threat to his life is without precedent in modern U.S. history. The comments marked a sharp escalation of Trump’s baseless attacks on Biden, as the former president faces 88 criminal charges across four indictments in federal and state courts. Trump has frequently accused Biden of weaponizing the legal system against him in coordination with the Justice Department and local prosecutors. There is no evidence of such coordination.

A Tuesday evening fundraising email from the Trump campaign that was signed in the candidate’s name arrived with the subject line, “They were authorized to shoot me!” and said of the Biden administration, “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.”

Trump also wrote Tuesday on his social media site, Truth Social, that “Joe Biden’s DOJ, in their Illegal and UnConstitutional Raid of Mar-a-Lago, AUTHORIZED THE FBI TO USE DEADLY (LETHAL) FORCE.”

The FBI said in a statement Tuesday that it “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.”


“No one ordered additional steps to be taken and there was no departure from the norm in this matter,” the agency said.

FBI agents got approval from a federal magistrate judge in Florida to search Mar-a-Lago after months of efforts to get Trump to hand over the documents at issue. Agents also arrived in deliberately casual outfits to lower their profile - khakis and polo shirts - to comb the area and left with more than 100 classified records, some of which were top secret.

In response to a question about the differences between the policy in the law enforcement document and Trump’s claims, his campaign spokeswoman Karoline Leavitt accused The Washington Post of waging a “sickening attempt to run cover for Joe Biden.”

“The good news is, Americans don’t buy the pro-Democrat, Election Interfering pro-Biden propaganda the Washington Post is constantly selling,” she wrote in an email.

The Biden campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Some of Trump’s allies echoed the former president’s claims on social media.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), a staunch Trump ally, went even further than Trump on social media, writing on X that “The Biden DOJ and FBI were planning to assassinate Pres Trump and gave the green light.”

Throughout his campaign, Trump has used the charges against him to rally his political base and raise millions of dollars. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Trump is currently on trial in New York on allegations of falsifying business records to cover up hush money to a porn actress and awaits trial in the other three cases.

[Defense rests without Trump taking the witness stand in his New York hush money trial]

Trump’s Tuesday comments add to a long history of false and incendiary claims against his political opponents, which Democrats and some Republicans have denounced, and has alarmed historians who have studied political rhetoric. Some of his supporters, including Republican members of Congress, conservative media personalities and others have often repeated or amplified his claims.

It is not clear if Trump will stand trial before the election on the charges of mishandling classified documents. Prosecutors say Trump improperly kept top-secret documents from his presidency and then obstructed the government’s attempts to retrieve them.

- - -

Perry Stein, Josh Dawsey and Aaron Schaffer contributed to this report.