His lawyers claim that documents with classified markings were found in the Indiana home of former Vice President Mike Pence last week. This is the latest in an ongoing string of recoveriesof confidential information from the homes and offices of former and current top U.S. officials.
The records “appear” to contain a few documents with classified markings, which were accidentally boxed and moved to the home of the former vice-president at the end of his last administration, Greg Jacob, Pence’s lawyer wrote in a letter addressed to the National Archives, shared with The Associated Press.
He stated that Pence was “unaware” of sensitive or classified documents in his home until last week’s search. Pence “understands how important it is to protect sensitive and classified information, and is ready and willing cooperate fully with National Archives and any inquiry.”
This revelation was made as the Department of Justice was already looking into the discovery of documents containing classification markings in the home of President Joe Biden in Delaware, his former Washington office, and the former Florida estate of President Donald Trump. Democrat Biden indicated that he would seek reelection. Republican Pence is currently exploring a potential 2024 presidential campaign in which he could challenge his former boss.
Pence, who previously maintained that he adhered to strict protocols regarding classified documents, is now involved in the debate about the handling secret materials by government officials at the highest levels.
After 300 documents containing classified markings were found at Mar-a-Lago, Trump is currently being investigated. Officials are currently trying to determine if Trump or any other person should be charged with illegally possessing those records or trying to obstruct the long-running criminal investigation. Biden is also under special counsel scrutiny after classified documents from his time in the Obama administration and as senator were discovered at his property.
Trump, who denied any wrongdoings, responded to the news on his social media sites: “Mike Pence, an innocent man. He has never done anything intentionally dishonest in his entire life. He is not to be trusted! !”
Although this is a different case, the Pence developments could dilute or increase attention on Trump, Biden and others who have tried to minimize the significance of the discovery at their homes. The existence of secret documents in all three men’s homes underscores federal government’s complicated system to store and protect the millions of classified documents it produces each year.
Jacob, Pence’s lawyer, stated in his letter that Jacob had “engaged outside counsel with experience in handling classified papers” to review records at his house on Jan. 16, “out of an abundance caution” following the publication of the Biden documents.
Jacob stated that the Pence documents had been immediately locked in a safe. A Jan. 22 follow-up letter by the lawyer states that FBI agents visited Pence’s home the night of January 19 to retrieve the documents. He was still in Washington when the incident occurred.
There were four boxes that contained copies of administration papers. Two of them had papers with classified markings, while two others had papers with “courtesy copies” of vice-presidential papers. These boxes were delivered to the National Archives Monday.
CNN first reported the discovery by CNN. The National Archives didn’t immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment.
A Justice Department spokesperson declined to comment Tuesday and a Pence lawyer did not immediately reply to an email asking for clarification.
In August , Pence stated to the Associated Press that he didn’t take any classified information with his when he resigned from office.
When asked directly if he knew of any such information, the answer was “No, not to our knowledge.”
Pence spoke with Fox Business in a January interview. He described the “very formal process” his office used to handle classified information, as well as the steps his lawyers took to make sure none was shared with him.
“Before we left White House, my attorneys went through all documents in both White House and offices there, as well as at the residence of the vice president, to make sure that no classified documents were missing. Pence stated that they went through a careful process in this regard.
A spokesperson for ex-President Barack Obama pointed to a 2022 statement by the National Archives, which stated that the agency had taken control of Obama’s records following his departure from office. It also said that the agency “isn’t aware of any missing boxes” of records related to the Obama administration.
Freddy Ford, a spokesperson of former President George W. Bush told AP that all presidential records – classified as well as unclassified – were handed over to NARA after leaving the White House.
A spokesperson for Bill Clinton stated that all classified documents were in NARA custody. There have not been any instances of them being found anywhere else since his departure from office in 2001.
A spokesperson said that former Vice President Dick Cheney did not leave office with classified material and none have been found since.
Mike Pompeo served as Secretary of State under Trump and is currently mulling his 2024 GOP presidential run.
Pompeo was asked by AP if he had any classified material left the administration. He replied “no” and added, “No one should possess classified information outside of the appropriate place for classified data, anytime, complete stop, period.”
According to public records, Pence and Karen bought their Carmel, Indiana home with seven bedrooms and a total of 10,300 square feet in May 2021. This was four months after they moved out of Washington’s vice president’s residence. The Indiana property covers five acres, just north of Indianapolis.
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