Aides to former Vice President Mike Pence found a “small number of documents” with classified marks at his Indiana home during a search last week, according to an adviser to Mr. Pence.
The documents were “inadvertently packaged and transported” to Mr. Pence’s home at the end of President Donald J. Trump’s administration, wrote Greg Jacob, Mr. Pence’s representative for handling cases related to the presidency, in a letter to the National Archives.
The discovery of the classified documents at Mr. Pence’s home was reported earlier by CNN.
The letter, dated Jan. 18, said the former vice president was unaware of the existence of the documents and reiterated that he takes the handling of classified documents seriously and wants to help.
Mr. Jacob wrote that Mr. Pence relied on outside counsel after classified documents were discovered in recent days at President Biden’s residence and former private office. Mr Jacob also said the lawyer could not elaborate on anything further about the documents because he stopped looking once it was clear the documents had classified marks.
“The lawyer has identified a small number of documents that may contain sensitive or classified information scattered throughout the files,” Mr. Jacob wrote of the search, which he said was carried out on January 16. A person familiar with the matter said the lawyer who carried out the search and previously worked with Mr. Pence in the Trump administration and had a security clearance while there.
Understanding the Biden Papers Deal
The discovery in two locations of classified documents from President Biden’s time as vice president has sparked a Justice Department investigation.
“Vice President Pence immediately secured these documents in a locked safe pending further instructions on the proper handling of the National Archives,” Jacob wrote.
In a second letter dated four days later, Mr. Jacob wrote that despite a conversation with records officials on January 19 about procedures for obtaining records of former presidents and vice presidents, the Justice Department that evening “bypassed standard procedures and requested direct possession” of the documents.
Mr. Pence was in Washington to attend the March for Life anti-abortion event, Mr. Jacob wrote, but granted permission to release the materials anyway. Mr. Jacob also wrote that there were two boxes in which the documents with classified marks were found, as well as two additional boxes with copies of administrative documents.
He said he would personally bring these boxes to the National Archives on January 23. A spokesperson for the archives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Mr Pence’s transition out of office has been notoriously bumpy, after Mr Trump spent weeks pressuring him to effectively overturn the 2020 election results so Mr Trump can stay in power .
How Times reporters cover politics. We rely on our journalists to be independent observers. So while Times staffers can vote, they are not allowed to support or campaign for political candidates or causes. This includes participating in marches or rallies in support of a movement or donating money or raising funds for any political candidate or electoral cause.
Still, the disclosure raises more questions about how the classified documents are handled at the highest levels of government at a time when Mr. Biden and Mr. Trump are both under special counsel investigations into the matter. .
Mr. Trump has been the subject of a federal investigation for nearly a year into how hundreds of documents with classified marks, as well as hundreds of pages of presidential files, ended up in his private club and his residence, Mar-a-Lago.
Mr Trump resisted aides’ insistence on giving boxes of documents with unknown contents to the National Archives. When he finally returned 15 boxes, archive officials found hundreds of pages with classified marks. Mr Trump then faced a grand jury subpoena to turn over all remaining documents, and one of his attorneys wrote a statement saying everything had been turned over. When investigators found evidence that was not the case, the FBI searched his club in August.
Mr. Biden, on the other hand, has cooperated since the discovery of documents in his nonprofit offices and then at his home. However, he and the White House have faced questions about the timeline of the findings and the level of transparency with the public about when documents were found at Mr Biden’s home.
The FBI searched Mr. Biden’s home for about 13 hours on Friday and found six additional items that were taken away, his attorney said. The president granted access to his Delaware home.
Mr. Jacob, who was Mr. Pence’s general counsel when he was vice president, highlighted the cooperation in the letter to the National Archives.
Yet Mr Pence and his aides had previously said they were confident the vice president retained no classified documents after leaving office.
The person familiar with the matter said the documents in question were largely previously kept at the vice president’s residence at the Naval Observatory. Officials began briefing officials of relevant congressional committees on Tuesday, the person said.
Mr. Pence is eyeing a presidential campaign for 2024, in a primary in which Mr. Trump is so far the only declared candidate. Mr. Biden has not yet said whether he will run again, but all signs point to a likely bid for a second term.