Former Vice President Mike Pence’s lawyer found a dozen documents marked classified at Pence’s Indiana home last week, and he has turned over those classified records to the FBI, multiple sources familiar with the matter told CNN.
The FBI and the Justice Department’s National Security Division began reviewing the documents and how they ended up at Pence’s home in Indiana.
Sources said the classified documents were discovered at Pence’s new home in Carmel, Indiana, by Pence’s attorney following revelations about classified materials found in President Joe Biden’s private office and home. The discovery comes after Pence has repeatedly said he has no classified documents.
It is not yet clear what the documents relate to or what their sensitivity or classification is. Pence’s team plans to report to Congress on Tuesday.
Pence asked his attorney to search his home out of an abundance of caution, and the attorney began examining four boxes stored in Pence’s home last week, finding a small number of documents with classified identification, the sources said.
Pence’s lawyer immediately alerted the National Archives, the sources said. In turn, the archive informed the Department of Justice.
Pence’s lawyer told CNN that the FBI requested documents with classified identities that evening, and that Pence agreed. Agents from the FBI’s field office in Indianapolis took documents from Pence’s home, the attorney said.
On Monday, Pence’s legal team took the boxes to Washington, D.C., and turned the remaining materials over to the archives for review in compliance with the Presidential Records Act.
In a letter to the National Archives obtained by CNN, Greg Jacobs, Pence’s representative for the archives, wrote that “a small number of documents with classified identification” were inadvertently boxed up and transported to the vice president’s home.
“Vice President Pence was not aware of the presence 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 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 sources. The boxes were not in a secure area, but after the classified documents were found, they were placed inside a vault located in the home, sources said.
Pence’s Washington, D.C., office was also searched, Pence’s lawyer said, and no material or other records classified under the Presidential Records Act were found.
The news about Pence comes amid special counsel investigations into the handling of classified documents by both Biden and former President Donald Trump. The revelations come amid speculation that Pence is preparing to run for the Republican nomination for president in 2024.
Since the FBI searched Trump’s home in Florida in August with a search warrant for classified material, Pence has said he did not have any classified materials when he left office. “No, I don’t know,” he told The Associated Press in August.
In November, Pence was asked by ABC News whether he had taken any classified documents from the White House to his Indiana home.
“I didn’t,” Pence replied.
“Well, there’s no reason to keep classified documents, especially if they’re in an unsecured area,” Pence continued. “But I will tell you that I believe there must be many better ways to solve that problem than to execute a search warrant at the private residence of the former President of the United States.”
While Pence’s vice president’s office typically did a rigorous job sorting through and turning over any classified material and unclassified material under the Presidential Records Act when he left office, it appears these classified documents inadvertently slipped into the process. Sources told CNN that the items were packed separately from the vice president’s residence along with Pence’s personal papers.
The Vice President’s residence at the US Naval Observatory in Washington houses a secure facility that handles classified material along with other security, and it is common for classified documents to be there for the Vice President to review.
Some of the boxes 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 process that the rest of Pence’s papers did.
Secret documents were found at Pence’s residence, the third time in recent history that he had inappropriately classified material after leaving the office of president or vice president. Both Biden and Trump are now being investigated by separate special counsels for their handling of classified material.
Sources familiar with the process say Pence’s discovery of classified documents after the Trump and Biden controversies suggests a more formal problem with the Presidential Records Act, which is classified material that must be turned over to the National Archives and official White House records. An administrative decision.
On Friday, the FBI searched Biden’s Wilmington home for additional classified material, an unprecedented search of a sitting president’s home, and found six additional items with classified markings. The search follows the discovery of classified documents in Biden’s private office in November and the discovery of classified materials by Biden’s lawyers in Wilmington.
Biden’s lawyers say they are fully cooperating with the Justice Department in seeking to recuse themselves from the Trump investigation.
The FBI obtained a search warrant to search Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in August. Federal investigators took that action because they believed Trump had not turned over all classified material despite a subpoena and the records at Mar-a-Lago were being moved.
Last week, Pence told Larry Kudlow in a Fox Business interview 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 place where my military aide puts those classified materials. I’ll pull them out and review them,” Pence said. I will return it. They went into what is commonly called a burnt pie. The military aide collects and destroys that classified material—the same goes for the stuff I get at the White House.