Classified documents found at former US vice president Pence’s home
Last week, classified documents were found at the home of former US Vice President Mike Pence in Indiana. His lawyer said in letters seen by Reuters on Tuesday that Pence has given the FBI the classified documents.
Greg Jacob, the lawyer, sent a letter to the National Archives on January 18 telling them about the documents. On January 22, he sent another letter to the archives telling them that the FBI had come to the home of the former vice president to take the documents.
Documents marked “classified” were found at the homes of Pence, his former boss Donald Trump, and President Joe Biden. This puts Pence in the same group as Trump and Biden.
Jacob told the National Archives in a letter dated January 18 that Pence had hired outside counsel “out of an abundance of caution” to look at the records he kept at home after hearing about the items found at Biden’s home.
“Counsel found a small number of documents that might contain sensitive or classified information,” Jacob wrote in the letter.
“Vice President Pence put those papers in a locked safe right away until the National Archives told him what to do with them,” he said. The letter said that once the documents were marked as classified, Pence’s lawyer did not look at what was in them.
In a separate letter from January 22, Jacob said that the Justice Department “jumped over the normal steps and asked for direct possession” of the documents at Pence’s home.
Jacob said that on January 19, at 9:30 p.m., FBI agents went to the former vice president’s home in Indiana with his permission to take the papers from the safe.
Biden, whose documents were from when he was vice president, and Trump, who wouldn’t give them up, which led to an FBI raid, are both being investigated by the Justice Department’s special counsel for improper handling of classified information.
During a change of president, each administration’s records are supposed to be turned over to the US National Archives, which is responsible for keeping them safe. It is against the law to take or keep classified information knowingly or on purpose. If classified information gets into the wrong hands because it wasn’t stored and protected properly, it could hurt the security of the country.
The Pence discovery could help Biden’s political situation. He had criticised Trump last fall for how he handled classified information, which led to accusations of hypocrisy when documents were found in his old office and garage. Both men may run for president in 2024, and this issue has become a political liability for both of them.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who is against Biden and supports Trump, said that none of the three men were trying to hurt national security on purpose.
“But it’s clear that there’s a problem. So I hope that when all is said and done, we’ll realise that maybe we’re overclassifying things, which could be part of the problem “he said. “What used to be a political problem for Republicans is now a problem for the country’s national security.”
CNN was the first to report that the papers were found at Pence’s house.
When asked about possible classified documents or searches, a spokesman for former President Barack Obama told Reuters that his office had a “clean bill of health” from the National Archives.
Bush’s administration “turned over all Presidential records, both classified and not,” Bush spokesman Freddy Ford told Reuters after Bush left the White House.