Former Vice President Mike Pence speaks during an event to promote his new book at the conservative think tank Heritage Foundation on October 19, 2022 in Washington, DC.
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Lawyers for former Vice President Mike Pence said a “small amount” of classified documents were found at his home in Carmel, Indiana, last week.
Pence’s lawyers notified the National Archives and Records Administration of the discovery on Wednesday, according to a letter obtained by CNBC.
The classified documents were discovered on Jan. 16 after Pence’s outside attorney with experience handling classified documents searched his own home and records “out of an abundance of caution” following reports that the classified documents had been found on the president. Joe Biden at home and in the office, Pence’s lawyer told the archives. The revelation, which CNN previously reported, comes after Pence has repeatedly said he does not have any classified documents.
Gregory Jacob, an attorney with the O’Melveny firm tasked with handling the Pence documents, said in a letter sent Sunday to the National Archives that the Justice Department sent FBI agents to Pence’s home at 9:30 p.m. Thursday to retrieve the documents being processed. kept in a safe while he was in Washington, D.C., for the March for Life.
“We haven’t heard from the Justice Department since then,” Pence press secretary Devin O’Malley told NBC News.
Read Jacob’s letters to the National Archives here:
Congressional leaders were briefed on Tuesday’s revelation by Pence’s team.
O’Malley told NBC News that all four boxes, “two of which have a small amount [classified] Documents that appeared to have classified markings were found, and two separate boxes containing courtesy copies of the vice president’s documents were hand-delivered by Pence’s legal team to the archives on Monday.
US Attorney General Merrick Garland has appointed two separate special counsels to investigate Biden and the former president Donald Trump for handling classified material.
On January 9, the White House announced that on November 2, Biden’s personal lawyers found documents at the Penn Biden Center in Washington, DC. The attorneys then notified the National Archives, which led to a Justice Department investigation. Additional documents were later found by Biden’s lawyers at his home in Wilmington, Delaware on Dec. 20, prompting a search of the home by FBI agents on Friday.
The FBI searched Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home in Palm Beach, Fla., in August after months of discussions between the National Archives, the Justice Department and Trump. Officials found 15 boxes containing hundreds of classified documents during the raid.
Unlike Biden, who consented to the search, Trump refused to cooperate, resulting in a search warrant. Trump has repeatedly insisted that he did nothing wrong in handling the documents after his presidency, and has claimed that any classified material was declassified by him before he left office, despite evidence to the contrary.
Trump defended his former vice president in a post on his Truth Social website.
“Mike Pence is an innocent man,” Trump wrote. “He never did anything knowingly dishonest in his life. Leave him alone!!!”
Special counsel Robert Gurr, a former U.S. attorney in Maryland, was selected by Garland to investigate Biden’s handling of classified materials on January 12. On November 18, Garland appointed Jack Smith, a former federal prosecutor, to investigate Trump’s handling of classified documents. Smith is also investigating Trump’s involvement in the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol.
The FBI declined to comment and was referred to the Justice Department, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
White House press secretary Karin Jean-Pierre declined to comment on Pence’s revelations when asked by reporters on Tuesday, citing the ongoing investigation.
“The Ministry of Justice is independent and we will not interfere politically,” said Jean-Pierre. “We’ve been very, very clear about that.”
Biden told reporters in Mexico City on Jan. 10 that he was “surprised” by the discovery of the documents.
In an interview with CBS News on January 10, before the documents were found at his home, Pence said he was “certain” that he had no classified material from his time in the White House.
“Our staff reviewed all materials in our office and in our residence to ensure that there is no classified material that has left the White House or remains in our possession,” Pence said. “I remain confident that this was done in a thorough and careful manner. Clearly, in the final days of the Trump-Pence administration, this process was not properly followed by staff around the President of the United States.”
Pence told Fox Business on Jan. 12, before classified documents were found in his own home, the situation was “very serious.”
“Handling classified material and national secrets is very serious business, and as a former Vice President of the United States, I can speak from personal experience about the level of care that must be given to these materials while you are in office and after you are in office. you will resign,” he told FOX Business. “And in this case, that clearly wasn’t the case.”
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, told reporters on Tuesday that the United States could declassify the information. Graham also said he believes the document crisis is now beyond politics.
“What has become a political issue for Republicans has now become a national security issue for the country,” Graham said at a news conference on Capitol Hill.
— CNBC Kayla Tausche contributed to this article.
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