Lawyers for former Vice President Mike Pence found about a dozen documents marked as classified at Pence’s home in Indiana last week, which he has turned over to CNN, multiple people familiar with the matter told CNN. the FBI.
The FBI and the Justice Department’s national security division have begun reviewing the documents and how they ended up at Pence’s home in Indiana.
Following the revelations of classified material found in President Joe Biden’s private office and residence, a lawyer for Pence discovered the classified documents at the former vice president’s new residence in Carmel, Indiana, sources said. The discovery came after Pence repeatedly said he did not have any classified documents.
It was not immediately clear what the documents were related to or what level of sensitivity or classification they were.
Pence’s team notified congressional leaders and relevant committees of the discovery on Tuesday.
Out of an abundance of caution, Pence ordered his home to be searched by an attorney experienced in handling classified material. Attorney Matt Morgan began rummaging through four boxes stored at Pence’s home last week and found a small number of classified-marked documents, the sources said.
Pence’s lawyers immediately notified the National Archives, the source said. In turn, the Archives notified the Justice Department.
Pence’s attorney told CNN that the FBI requested the documents marked as classified that night, and Pence agreed. Agents from the FBI’s Indianapolis field office obtained the documents from Pence’s home, the attorney said.
On Monday, Pence’s legal team drove the boxes back to Washington, D.C., and turned them over to the Archives to review the remaining material for compliance with the Presidential Records Act.
In a letter to the National Archives obtained by CNN, Greg Jacobs, Pence’s representative at the archives, wrote that “a small number of documents marked as classified” were inadvertently boxed and shipped to The home of the Vice President.
“Vice President Pence was not aware of the existence of sensitive or classified documents in his private residence,” Jacobs wrote. “Vice President Pence understands the importance of protecting sensitive and classified information and is always ready and willing to work with the National Archives Cooperate fully with any appropriate investigation.”
The classified material was stored in boxes that were shipped to Pence’s temporary residence in Virginia before being moved to Indiana, the sources said. The boxes were not in a secure area, but they were taped and hadn’t been opened since they were packed, according to Pence’s attorney. Once the classified documents were discovered, they were placed in a safe in the house, the source said.
Pence’s Washington D.C. Advocacy Group Pence’s attorney said the office was also searched and found no classified material or other records covered by the Presidential Records Act.
The news about Pence comes as the special counsel investigates Biden and former President Donald Trump’s handling of classified documents. The revelations come amid speculation that Pence is preparing to run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024.
Since the FBI raided Trump’s Florida home for classified material with a search warrant in August, Pence said he retained no classified material when he left office. “No, as far as I know,” he told The Associated Press in August.
In November, ABC News asked Pence at his home in Indiana whether he had taken any classified documents from the White House.
“I haven’t,” Pence replied.
“Well, there’s no reason to have classified documents, especially if they’re in an unprotected area,” Pence continued. “But I’ll tell you, I believe there must be a lot better way to go about this than to execute a search warrant on the private residence of a former president of the United States.”
While Pence’s office of the vice president generally did a rigorous job when he left office, sorting out and turning over any classified and unclassified material covered by the Presidential Records Act, the classified documents appear to have inadvertently slipped through the process , as most sources told CNN that the material was packaged separately from the vice president’s residence, along with Pence’s personal papers.
The vice president’s residence at the U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington has security facilities for handling classified material and other security facilities, and classified documents are usually there for the vice president to review.
Some of the boxes at Pence’s home in Indiana were packed from the vice president’s mansion, while some were shipped from the White House in the final days of the Trump administration, including last-minute stuff that didn’t go through the rest of Pence’s paperwork. .
The discovery of classified documents at Pence’s residence marks the third time in recent history that a president or vice president improperly possessed classified material after leaving office. Biden and Trump are now being investigated by separate special counsels over their handling of classified material.
The sources familiar with the process said the classified documents that Pence discovered in the wake of the Trump-Biden dispute point to more systemic problems related to classified material and the Presidential Records Act, which requires official White House records to be kept in a the end of government.
The FBI raided Biden’s Wilmington home on Friday for more classified material, an unprecedented search of a sitting president’s home that found six more items containing classified markings. Following the initial discovery of classified documents in Biden’s private ideological office in November, Biden’s lawyers discovered classified materials in Wilmington and subsequently conducted a search.
Biden’s lawyers said they were cooperating fully with the Justice Department in trying to separate themselves from the Trump investigation.
Tuesday’s developments are good news for Biden administration officials and allies. As one senior administration official put it: “It dampened the enthusiasm for the only coverage of Biden.”
One hope, the official said, is that the classified documents found at Pence’s home will help underscore that Biden aides aren’t the only ones who mistakenly package classified documents that should have been turned over to the archives. The White House could also use the development to emphasize the importance of how to handle the situation if classified documents are discovered, the official said.
Administration officials have insisted that lawyers working for the president did the right thing by notifying the archives immediately after they first discovered the classified documents in early November, distinguishing Biden’s legal team’s handling of the matter from Trump and his president’s actions Come team.
The FBI obtained a search warrant to search Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in August. Federal investigators took the step because they believed Trump had not turned over all classified material despite the subpoena and were concerned that Mar-a-Lago records were being moved around.
Trump’s legal team still believes Pence’s developments are in the former president’s favor, according to people familiar with the matter. While the circumstances of each case are different, members of his legal team believe the developments will make it harder for prosecutors to justify criminal charges against either of them, the sources said.
“They’re all connected in some way now,” the source said, referring to Pence, Biden and Trump.
Earlier this month, Pence told Larry Kudlow in an interview with Fox Business that he received the president’s daily briefing at the vice president’s residence.
“I’ll get up early. I’ll go to the safe where my military aides keep those classified materials. I’ll take them out, review them,” Pence said. “I’d get a presentation for them, and then, quite frankly, usually, Larry, I’d simply return them in the file that I got them in. They usually go into what’s called a burn bag, My military aides would collect the bags and then destroy the classified material — the same goes for the material I received at the White House.”
Congressional leaders of both parties were alarmed by the new discovery that Pence also had classified records in his home.
“I don’t understand that,” said Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin.
“The bottom line is I don’t know how this happened and we need to find out,” the senator said. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican. “I don’t believe for a minute that Mike Pence is trying to deliberately compromise national security. But clearly we have a problem here.”
House Foreign Affairs Chairman Michael McCaul responded to the development, saying it was “impermissible.”
“I don’t know what to tell you, other than not allowing it, whether you’re the chairman of a committee or the president or vice president of the United States. I’ve been dealing with the classified world my entire career; I don’t understand people bringing these documents back Home. If you do, you should have a safe designated for storage, and you must have a proper briefcase to carry it. I don’t know all the facts here,” the Texas Republican said.
House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer, R-Ky., who is investigating classified Biden documents, said in a statement that Pence had contacted him about the classified documents found in his home.
“He has agreed to cooperate fully with congressional oversight and any questions we have about this matter,” Comer said, adding that Pence’s transparency “contrasted sharply” with the Biden administration’s response to Congress over classified documents. Comer’s statement made no mention of Trump’s classified documents.
However, the former president defended Pence on Tuesday. “Mike Pence is an innocent man. He has never done anything willfully dishonest in his life. Leave him alone!!!” Trump posted on his social media site.
Correction: A previous version of this story was wrong when Pence appeared on Fox Business. It has also been updated with more details.