First on CNN: Classified documents found at Pence’s Indiana home


Washington
CNN

A lawyer for former Vice President Mike Pence found about a dozen classified documents at Pence’s Indiana home last week, and turned those classified records over to the FBI, multiple sources familiar with the matter said. on the subject with CNN.

The FBI and the Justice Department’s National Security Division have launched a review of the documents and how they ended up at Pence’s home in Indiana.

A lawyer for Pence discovered the classified documents at the former vice president’s new home in Carmel, Indiana, following the disclosure of classified material found in President Joe Biden’s private office and residence, the sources said. The discovery comes after Pence repeatedly said he had no classified documents in his possession.

It is not yet clear what the documents are about or their level of sensitivity or classification.

Pence’s team reported the discovery to congressional leaders and relevant committees on Tuesday.

Pence asked his lawyer, who has experience handling classified material, to search his home without warning. Sources said the attorney, Matt Morgan, began going through four boxes stored in Pence’s home last week, finding a small number of documents with classified markings.

Pence’s lawyer immediately alerted the National Archives, the sources said. Subsequently, the Archives informed the Department of Justice.

A lawyer for Pence told CNN that the FBI asked to pick up the documents with classified markings that evening, and Pence agreed. Agents from the FBI field office in Indianapolis picked up the documents from Pence’s home, the lawyer said.

On Monday, Pence’s legal team drove the boxes back to Washington, DC, and gave them to the Archives to review the rest of the material to comply with the Presidential Records Act.

In a letter to the National Archives obtained by CNN, Pence’s representative to the Archives, Greg Jacob, wrote that “a small number of documents with classified markings” had been inadvertently boxed up and transported to the vice president’s home.

“Vice President Pence did not know that there were sensitive or classified documents at his personal residence,” Jacob wrote. “Vice President Pence understands the high importance of protecting sensitive and classified information and is ready and willing to cooperate fully with the National Archives and any appropriate investigation.”

The classified material was stored in boxes that first went to Pence’s temporary home in Virginia before being moved to Indiana, according to the sources. The boxes were not in a secure area, but were taped up and not believed to have been opened since they were packed, according to Pence’s attorney. Once the classified documents were discovered, the sources said they were placed inside a locker located in the house.

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Pence's home in Carmel, Indiana.

Pence’s Washington, DC advocacy group An office was also searched, Pence’s lawyer said, and no classified material or other records covered by the Presidential Records Act were found.

The news about Pence comes as special counsels are investigating the handling of classified documents by both Biden and former President Donald Trump. The revelation also comes amid speculation that Pence is preparing to run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024.

Since the FBI searched Trump’s Florida home for classified material in August with a search warrant, Pence said he did not keep any classified material when he left his office. “No, to my knowledge,” he told the Associated Press in August.

In November, ABC News asked Pence at his home in Indiana if he had taken any classified documents from the White House.

“I didn’t,” Pence replied.

“Well, there would be no reason for classified documents, especially if they were in an unprotected area,” Pence continued. “But I will tell you that I believe there were many better ways to resolve that issue than to execute a search warrant at the personal residence of the former president of the United States.”

While Pence’s vice presidential office generally worked hard to sort through and turn over any classified and unclassified material covered by the Presidential Records Act when he left office, it appears that these classified documents slipped through the process inadvertently. because in most cases. materials from the vice president’s residence, as well as Pence’s personal papers, were packed separately, the sources told CNN.

The Vice President’s residence at the US Naval Observatory in Washington has a secure facility for handling classified material along with other security, and it would be common for classified documents to be there for the vice president to review.

Some of the boxes in Pence’s Indiana home were packed from the vice president’s residence, and some came from the White House in the final days of the Trump administration, including last-minute items that didn’t go through the rest of Pence’s process. documents made.

The discovery of classified documents in Pence’s residence is the third time in recent memory that classified material has been improperly possessed by a president or vice president after leaving office. Both Biden and Trump are now being investigated by separate special counsels over their handling of classified material.

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Sources familiar with the process say Pence’s discovery of classified documents after the Trump and Biden controversies would point to a more systemic problem with classified material and the Presidential Records Act, which requires official White House records to be turned over to the National Archives at the end of administration.

On Friday, the FBI searched Biden’s Wilmington residence for additional classified material, an unprecedented search of a sitting president’s home that included six additional items with classified markings. The search came after Biden’s lawyers discovered classified material in Wilmington after classified documents were first found at Biden’s private think tank in November.

Biden’s lawyers say they are cooperating fully with the Justice Department, seeking to distinguish themselves from the Trump investigation.

Tuesday’s development was welcomed by Biden administration officials and allies. As one senior administration official put it: “It turns down the temperature because this is just a Biden story.”

One hope, this official said, is that the discovery of classified documents in the Pence home will help emphasize that Biden’s aides were not alone in making a mistake in packing away classified documents that should have been turned over to the Archives. The White House could also use the development, the official said, to emphasize the importance of how the situation is handled once the classified documents are discovered.

Administration officials argued that lawyers working for the president did the right thing by immediately notifying the Archives as soon as classified documents were first discovered in early November, drawing a distinction between the handling of legal staff Biden on the matter and the actions of Trump and his. team.

​​​​The FBI obtained a search warrant to search Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in August. Federal investigators took that step because they believed Trump had not turned over all the classified material despite a subpoena and were concerned that records at Mar-a-Lago were being moved around.

However, Trump’s legal team viewed the penny development as a positive for the former president, according to a source familiar with the matter. While the circumstances are different in each case, members of his legal team believe the developments will make it more difficult for prosecutors to bring criminal charges against any of them, the source said.

“They’re all connected in some way now,” the source said, referring to Pence, Biden and Trump.

Pence told Larry Kudlow in an interview with Fox Business earlier this month that he received the President’s Daily Briefing at the vice president’s residence.

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“I would get up early. I would go to the safe where my military assistant would put those classified materials. I would take them out, review them,” Pence said. “I’ll get them a gift and then, in vain, more often than not, I’ll send them back to the file I got them from. gather military aid and destroy those classified materials — it’s the same thing I would get in the White House.”

Congressional leaders in both parties were shocked by the new revelation that Pence also had classified records in his own home.

“I don’t understand this,” said Senate Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin.

“The bottom line is I don’t know how this happened, we have to get to the bottom of it,” said Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina. “I don’t believe for a minute that Mike Pence is intentionally trying to endanger national security. But we clearly have a problem here.”

House Foreign Affairs Chairman Michael McCaul responded to the development, saying it was “unacceptable”.

“I don’t know what to tell you except that it’s not allowed, whether you’re the chairman of the committee or the president of the United States or the vice president. And I have been dealing in the classified world all my life; I don’t understand people taking these documents home. If you do that, you are supposed to be safe designated for storage and you must have a proper briefcase to carry it in. I don’t know all the facts here,” said the Texas Republican.

House Oversight Chairman James Comer, a Republican from Kentucky who is investigating Biden’s classified documents, said in a statement that Pence reached out to him about the classified documents found in his home.

“He has agreed to fully cooperate with congressional oversight and any questions we have about the matter,” Comer said, adding that Pence’s transparency “is in stark contrast” to the Biden administration’s response to Congress on the classified documents. Comer’s statement did not mention Trump’s classified documents.

The former president, however, came to Pence’s defense on Tuesday. “Mike Pence is an innocent man. He has never done anything knowingly dishonest in his life. Leave him alone!!!” Trump posted on his social media site.

CORRECTION: An older version of this story was mistaken when Pence appeared on Fox Business. It has also been updated with additional details.

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