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Documents marked classified found at Mike Pence's Indiana home, lawyer says

Mike Pence
Posted at 1:14 PM, Jan 24, 2023

A "small number" of documents with classified markings were discovered last week at former Vice President Mike Pence's Indiana home and turned over to the FBI, his lawyer told the National Archives and Records Administration.

In a letter dated Jan. 18, attorney Greg Jacob told an official with the Archives that a Pence aide conducted searched the home last week following the discovery of classified documents at President Biden's Wilmington, Delaware, home and former office at a Washington, D.C., think tank.

"The additional records appear to be a small number of documents bearing classified markings that were inadvertently boxed and transported to the personal home of the former Vice President at the end of the last Administration," Jacob wrote to Kate Dillon McClure, acting director of the Archives' White House Liaison Division. "Vice President Pence was unaware of the existence of sensitive or classified documents at his personal residence."

Two people familiar with the matter told CBS News that Pence's longtime aide Matt Morgan found the documents. CNN was first to report the discovery on Tuesday.

Jacob, who served as Pence's top lawyer in the White House, said Pence "engaged outside counsel, with experience in handling classified documents" on Jan. 16 to review records kept in his home in the wake of reports regarding documents marked classified found in Mr. Biden's possession and "out of an abundance of caution." It was during the search that the documents that could "potentially contain sensitive or classified information interspersed throughout the records" were found.

"Vice President Pence's counsel, however, is unable to provide an exact description of the folders or briefing materials that may contain sensitive or classified information because counsel did not review the contents of the documents once an indicator of potential classification was identified," Jacob wrote in the Jan. 18 letter. "Vice President Pence immediately secured those documents in a locked safe pending further direction on proper handling from the National Archives."

In a second letter dated Jan. 22, Jacob said the FBI went to Pence's Indiana home the night of Jan. 19 to collect the documents, and the transfer was facilitated by Pence's personal attorney, who was not named.

In addition to the two boxes where the documents were found, two others contained "courtesy copies" of papers from Pence's vice presidency, Jacob told Jay Bosanko, the Archives' chief operating officer.

Pence offered to transfer the four boxes to the Archives for a review to ensure they did not contain original documents that qualified as presidential records and therefore had to be turned over to the agency under federal law, Jacob said.

Jacob arranged to deliver the boxes himself on Monday morning.

Pence also informed the House Oversight and Accountability Committee on Tuesday of the discovery, according to its chairman, GOP Rep. James Comer.

"He has agreed to fully cooperate with congressional oversight and any questions we have about the matter," Comer said in a statement. "Former Vice President Pence's transparency stands in stark contrast to Biden White House staff who continue to withhold information from Congress and the American people."

Comer's panel is investigating the documents found at Mr. Biden's former office and home.

Rep. Mike Turner, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, said he plans to request an intelligence review and damage assessment of the records found with Pence to see if there are national security concerns, as he has asked for regarding Mr. Biden's documents.

"It is a serious matter for any government official to mishandle classified documents," he tweeted.

In the wake of the discoveries of Mr. Biden's documents and the seizure of dozens of sensitive records from former President Donald Trump's residence in Florida, Pence has repeatedly denied having any documents bearing classification markings from his tenure as vice president in his possession.

In an interview with CBS News on Jan. 10, Pence said his staff reviewed "all of the materials in our office and in our residence" to make sure there were no sensitive records that left the White House.

"I remain confident that that was done in a thorough and careful way," the former vice president said.

Last November, Pence was asked in an interview with ABC News whether he had taken any sensitive documents.

"Let me ask you, as we sit here in your home office in Indiana, did you take any classified documents with you from the White House?" ABC's David Muir asked Pence.

"I did not," Pence replied.

The discovery follows the matters involving documents marked classified found in both Mr. Biden and Trump's possession, each of which prompted Attorney General Merrick Garland to appoint separate special counsels to take over the Justice Department's investigations.

In Mr. Biden's case, between 25 and 30 documents bearing classification markings dating to his time as a senator and vice president were found by his personal lawyers at his former office at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement and his Wilmington house.

The records were handed over to the Justice Department, and Richard Sauber, Mr. Biden's special counsel, said in a Jan. 12 statement that the documents were "inadvertently misplaced." The FBI searched the president's Delaware home last Friday and found six items containing classified markings, Mr. Biden's personal attorney Bob Bauer said over the weekend.

In Trump's case, more than 300 documents with classification markings were discovered at his South Florida property, Mar-a-Lago, following months-long efforts by the Archives to retrieve records taken by the former president from the White House at the end of his presidency.

Of the 300 records, more than 180 documents with classification markings were in boxes retrieved by the Archives from Mar-a-Lago in January 2022. Another 38 documents marked classified were turned over to the Justice Department by Trump's lawyers in June in response to a grand jury subpoena seeking all documents bearing classification markings in Trump's possession.

More than 100 documents marked classified were then found at Mar-a-Lago when the FBI conducted a court-approved search of the premise on Aug. 8.

Trump has claimed that he declassified the records before leaving office, and separately, that he deemed the documents "personal" under the Presidential Records Act and could therefore keep them.

He is under investigation for alleged mishandling of classified documents, as well as possible obstruction of the probe, prosecutors have said.