Discovery of classified docs clashes with Pence’s previous comments
Former Vice President Mike Pence’s team disclosed Tuesday that documents with classified markings were found in his Indiana home last week, an announcement that cuts against his repeated statements that he did not have classified materials in his possession upon leaving office.
Pence has been asked over multiple interviews in the last five months whether he took any classified materials with him when he left the White House. The questions began in August after the FBI searched former President Trump’s Florida home to retrieve classified materials, and they resumed in recent weeks after it was revealed that President Biden’s lawyers found classified documents from his time as vice president at his old office and Delaware home.
In each instance, Pence insisted he had been careful and was not aware of any classified materials in his possession.
Pence’s most recent comments on the matter came on Jan. 10, five days before his lawyers said he directed a thorough review of administration records being stored at his Indiana home.
“Our staff reviewed all of the materials in our office and in our residence to ensure that there were no classified materials that left the White House or remained in our possession,” Pence told CBS News at the time. “And I remain confident that that was done in a thorough and careful way.”
In the same interview, Pence acknowledged the process in handling classified materials “was not properly executed” by Trump’s staff, given hundreds of documents ended up at the former president’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.
Pence’s Jan. 10 comments came shortly after the White House acknowledged classified materials were found at an old office Biden used while working at a Washington, D.C., think tank between his vice presidency and his presidential campaign.
Pence spoke to CBS before it was confirmed documents were found at Biden’s home in Wilmington, Del., the event that his lawyer said prompted a more thorough search of Pence’s Indiana residence.
The former vice president had denied having classified documents multiple times in the wake of the August FBI search of Trump’s Florida residence. The FBI search came months after federal officials found dozens of classified and highly sensitive documents at Trump’s home and after the former president failed to cooperate with requests to turn over remaining materials.
Pence was in Iowa days after the FBI search and was asked by The Associated Press if he took any classified documents with him when he left office.
“No, not to my knowledge,” Pence responded.
In a November interview with ABC News anchor David Muir conducted at his Indiana home office, Pence was again asked if he took any classified documents with him and said he did not.
“Well, there’d be no reason to have classified documents, particularly if they were in an unprotected area,” Pence said.
Pence’s team confirmed Tuesday that two boxes containing documents with classified markings were found at his Indiana home on Jan. 16. His lawyers notified the National Archives of their findings, and FBI officials took possession of the boxes on Jan. 19.
Pence earlier this month welcomed the appointment of a special counsel to review Biden’s handling of classified materials, arguing that it was a double standard for Trump to face a Justice Department investigation but not Biden.
He was also critical of Biden’s team for failing to notify the public about the initial findings of classified materials until roughly two months later. Biden’s lawyers first found classified materials at his old office on Nov. 2, 2022, six days before the midterm elections.
“The appointment of a special counsel in this case is right. It is proper,” Pence told Fox Business Network on Jan. 12, the day the special counsel was appointed. “The handling of classified materials and the nation’s secrets is a very serious matter. And, as a former vice president of the United States, I can speak from personal experience about the attention that ought to be paid to those materials when you’re in office and after you leave office.”