Classified documents at Pence’s house, too, his lawyer says

NEW YORK (AP) — Documents bearing classified markings were discovered last week at former Vice President Mike Pence’s Indiana residence, his attorney says, in the latest in a series of recoveries of sensitive information from the homes of current and current

NEW YORK (AP) — Documents bearing classified markings were discovered last week at former Vice President Mike Pence’s Indiana residence, his attorney says, the latest in a series of recoveries of sensitive information from the homes of current and former top US officials.

The records, which were taken into FBI custody, “appear to be a small number of classified-marked documents that were inadvertently packaged and transported to the former vice president’s personal home at the end of the last administration,” Pence’s attorney said. Greg. Jacob, in a letter to the National Archives shared with The Associated Press.

He said Pence was “unaware of the existence of confidential or classified documents at his personal residence” until a search last week and “understands the great importance of protecting confidential and classified information and is ready and willing to fully cooperate with National Archives”. and any appropriate inquiries.”

The disclosure came as the Justice Department was already investigating the discovery of documents with classification marks at President Joe Biden’s home in Delaware and his former office in Washington, as well as former President Donald Trump’s property in Florida. Democrat Biden has indicated that he will seek re-election, Trump is already an outspoken candidate and Republican Pence has been exploring a possible 2024 presidential campaign that would put him in direct competition with his former boss.

The latest discovery, first reported by CNN, pushes Pence, who has previously insisted he followed strict protocols regarding classified documents, into the debate about the handling of classified materials by officials who have served in the highest government ranks.

Trump is currently under criminal investigation after approximately 300 documents with classified marks, including at the top secret level, were discovered at Mar-a-Lago. Authorities are trying to determine whether Trump or anyone else should be charged with illegal possession of those records or trying to obstruct the months-long criminal investigation. Biden is also the subject of an investigation by special counsel after classified documents from his time as a senator and from the Obama administration were found on his property.

Trump, who denies any wrongdoing, reacted to the new development on his social media site: “Mike Pence is an innocent man. He never knowingly did anything dishonest in his life. Leave him alone!!!”

While a very different case, Pence’s development could bolster the arguments of Trump and Biden, who have tried to downplay the significance of the discoveries. The presence of classified documents in the three men’s homes further underscores the federal government’s difficult system for storing and protecting the millions of classified documents it produces each year.

Pence’s attorney, Jacob, said in his letter that the former vice president had “hired an outside attorney, experienced in handling classified documents” to review records stored at his home on January 16 “out of an abundance of caution” amid the uproar over discovery of documents at Biden’s home.

Jacob said the Pence documents with classification marks were immediately put away in a locked safe. According to a follow-up letter from the attorney dated January 22, FBI agents visited Pence’s residence on the evening of January 19 at 9:30 p.m. to collect the documents that had been seized. Pence was in Washington for an event at the time.

According to the letter, a total of four boxes containing copies of administration documents were discovered, two containing “a small number” of documents with classified markings and two containing “courtesy copies of vice-presidential documents.” “. Arrangements were made to deliver those boxes to the National Archives on Monday.

The National Archives did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the discovery. A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment Tuesday and a lawyer for Pence did not immediately respond to an email seeking more details.

Pence told the Associated Press in August that he did not take any classified information with him when he left office.

When asked directly if he had withheld said information, he said: “Not that I know of.”

In an interview this month with Fox Business, Pence described a “very formal process” used by his office to handle classified information, as well as the steps his lawyers took to make sure he didn’t take anything with him.

“Before we left the White House, attorneys on my staff reviewed all documents both at the White House and at our offices there and at the Vice President’s residence to ensure that all documents that needed to be turned over to the National Archives, including classified documents, were handed over. So we went through a very careful process in that regard,” Pence said.

On Capitol Hill, members of the Senate intelligence committee expressed their disbelief at the mishandling of documents by top US officials.

Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas noted that classified documents are only taken out of committee offices in locked bags. “In my book, you are never allowed to take classified documents out of a secure facility or by any means of secure transportation between those secure facilities,” he said.

House Intelligence Chairman Mike Turner, a Republican, said he planned to request a formal intelligence review and damage assessment.

“No one is above the law,” added Republican Sen. Rick Scott, another potential 2024 candidate. “I don’t know how anyone ends up with classified documents… I mean, every classified document I’ve seen has a big ‘Classified’ in it”.

Meanwhile, some Republicans pushed for searches of former President Barack Obama’s personal records.

An Obama spokesman referred to a 2022 statement from the National Archives that said the agency took control of all of his records after he left office and “is not aware of any missing boxes of presidential records from the Obama administration.” ”.

Representatives for former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton and former Vice President Dick Cheney said all of their classified records had been turned over to NARA upon leaving the White House.

Mike Pompeo, who served in the Trump administration as secretary of state and is considering his own 2024 Republican presidential bid, said during a stopover in South Carolina in late August that the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago “was a deeply politicized use of the FBI.

Asked by the AP if he took any classified material with him after leaving the administration, Pompeo replied “no,” adding: “No one should have taken classified information out of the proper place for classified information, anytime, full stop, full stop.”

Public records show that Pence and his wife, Karen, bought their seven-bedroom, 10,300-square-foot home in Carmel, Indiana, in May 2021, about four months after moving out of the vice president’s residence in Washington. The Indiana property is spread over a five-acre lot north of Indianapolis.


Associated Press writers Eric Tucker, Zeke Miller, Farnoush Amiri and Mary Clare Jalonick contributed to this report from Washington.

Jill Colvin, The Associated Press