Former Vice President Mike Pence stopped to shake hands with passersby despite the heavy rain as he made his way through the Iowa State Fair, Aug. 19. (Robin Opsahl/Iowa Capital Dispatch)
WASHINGTON — Former Vice President Mike Pence is the latest top public official to have been discovered possessing classified material in his personal home, according to a letter his lawyer sent to the National Archives.
A dozen documents with classified markings were discovered in Pence’s residence in Carmel, Indiana, in mid-January.
The former vice president “out of an abundance of caution” on Jan. 16 asked lawyers to review his personal records following reports of secret documents found at the homes of current and former U.S. leaders, according to a letter from attorney Greg Jacob to the National Archives.
“Vice President Pence was unaware of the existence of sensitive or classified documents at his personal residence. Vice President Pence understands the high importance of protecting sensitive and classified information and stands ready and willing to cooperate fully with the National Archives and any appropriate inquiry,” wrote Jacob, Pence’s designated representative to the National Archives.
According to a follow-up letter, FBI agents collected the documents from Pence’s home on the evening of Jan. 19.
The law enforcement agency declined to comment Tuesday when asked about the probe into classified materials recovered from Pence’s residence.
The disclosure comes amid two Department of Justice investigations into classified documents found at former President Donald Trump’s Florida home in August and in recent months at President Joe Biden’s Delaware home and former personal Washington office.
Republicans in the House majority this month promised their own investigation into the discovery of classified material in Biden’s Wilmington garage and at a Biden-associated think tank, the Penn Biden Center.
Comer defends Pence
Upon the revelation that classified papers had also been uncovered in Pence’s residence, House Oversight and Accountability Committee Chair James Comer issued a statement saying that the former Republican vice president is cooperating with the panel.
“Former Vice President Mike Pence reached out today about classified documents found at his home in Indiana. He has agreed to fully cooperate with congressional oversight and any questions we have about the matter. 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 said.
The Kentucky lawmaker wrote letters to White House Counsel Stuart Delery and to the U.S. Secret Service requesting information, including who had access to the think tank office and visitor logs for Biden’s private house dating back to his time as vice president.
Delery responded Monday by saying the requests are under review but highlighted the “critical need to protect the integrity and independence of law enforcement investigations.”
Visitor logs for Biden’s private home are not maintained by the Secret Service, according to the agency.
Warner says disclosures raise concerns
Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Chair Mark Warner told reporters Tuesday that the multiple discoveries of classified documents in former and current leaders’ homes sparks concern about “intelligence compromises.”
“I would have thought over a year ago, when the beginnings of this conversation between the Archives and President Trump came up, that anyone who’d served in any of these roles of president, vice president, that’s still living would say, ‘Go check your closets,’” the Virginia Democrat said.
An unprecedented search of Biden’s Wilmington home Friday uncovered classified material that federal officials took into possession.
The search was voluntary and did not require the execution of a search warrant, White House spokesman Ian Sams repeated to reporters on an afternoon call Monday.
The search occurred after classified documents from the Obama administration were unexpectedly discovered at the Penn Biden Center by the president’s personal lawyers in early November.
Biden’s lawyers discovered more classified material in the president’s garage at his Wilmington home in December, followed by the discovery of a small batch of documents with classified markings in a room adjacent to the garage on Jan. 11, according to a timeline provided by Biden’s personal attorney Bob Bauer.
The exact number of documents and their contents found in Biden’s home and office is unclear.
Attorney General Merrick Garland on Jan. 12 appointed former prosecutor Robert Hur as special counsel to lead the investigation into Biden’s handling of classified materials.
Garland also appointed Special Counsel Jack Smith to probe why hundreds of documents marked classified ended up at Trump’s Florida home, Mar-a-Lago.
The former president returned 184 classified documents that had been held at Mar-a-Lago to the National Archives last year before federal authorities executed a search warrant to search the club and private residence in early August, finding about 100 classified documents out of 11,000 total documents, according to the Justice Department.
Trump is under investigation for possible Espionage Act violations for the handling of classified information that he removed from the White House.
The National Archives declined to comment Tuesday.
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