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Fact check: No evidence of a leaked call between Biden, FBI director before Mar-a-Lago search

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 8/19/2022 Sudiksha Kochi, USA TODAY
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The claim: A call between the head of the FBI and Biden was leaked, proving that the FBI search was unlawful 

FBI Director Christopher Wray speaks during a news conference, Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022, in Omaha, Neb. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall) ORG XMIT: NECN105 © Charlie Neibergall, AP FBI Director Christopher Wray speaks during a news conference, Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022, in Omaha, Neb. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall) ORG XMIT: NECN105

Then-President Donald Trump nominated Christopher Wray as director of the FBI in 2017.

In the wake of the Aug. 8 search of Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate, one online conspiracy theory is linking Wray to the opposite side of the political spectrum, however.

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"BREAKING: A call between the head of the FBI and (President Joe) Biden has been leaked which proves the raid on Mar-A-Lago was unlawful," reads a screenshot of a tweet shared to Instagram on Aug. 10. "Biden is doing everything he can to make sure this call gets covered up."

The post also claims that the only place to find the leaked audio is on the private account @red.wave1776.

The post generated over 1,000 likes in less than a week. Similar posts have amassed hundreds of interactions on Instagram.

But the claim is baseless.

There is no evidence of a leaked call between Biden and Wray on either the private account or in any credible report. Experts also told USA TODAY that the FBI search was conducted in a legal manner. 

USA TODAY reached out to the social media users who shared the claim for comment.

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The Instagram account New York Trump Supporters, one of the accounts that initially posted the claim, told USA TODAY that their post was removed "because it was false advertising and unsubstantiated."

No such exchange took place

The claim is false, Andrew Bates, White House deputy press secretary, told USA TODAY in an email. 

The account cited in the original tweet, @red.wave1776, provided no evidence of leaked audio. The account's bio includes a link that directs users to United Patriot, a website that sells products supporting Trump.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in an Aug. 9 press briefing that the Department of Justice makes independent decisions on whether to conduct criminal investigations, and Biden was not aware the FBI would be conducting a search of Trump's estate ahead of time.

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The claim that the FBI search was unlawful is also wrong, experts say.

Legal experts previously told USA TODAY that for a search warrant to be approved, a judge or magistrate would have to find probable cause that a crime had been committed and that the location to be searched contains evidence of that crime. There is no involvement from the president during this process.

The DOJ began investigating Trump after learning from the National Archives and Records Administration that he had allegedly illegally removed classified documents from White House, USA TODAY reported.

The Department of Justice submitted an application for a search warrant to U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart, who found that probable cause exists and approved the warrantNeama Rahmani, a former federal prosecutor and president of West Coast Trial Lawyers, told USA TODAY. 

Our rating: False

Based on our research, we rate FALSE the claim that a call between the head of the FBI and Biden was leaked, proving that the FBI search was unlawful. There is no evidence of a leaked call between Biden and Wray. Legal experts said that the FBI search was conducted in a legal manner.

Our fact-check sources:

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: No evidence of a leaked call between Biden, FBI director before Mar-a-Lago search

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