WASHINGTON - Documents marked as classified were discovered at former US vice-president Mike Pence’s Indiana home last week, and he has turned those classified records over to the FBI, his attorney said in letters seen by Reuters on Tuesday.
The attorney, Mr Greg Jacob, sent a letter to the National Archives on Jan 18, notifying them of the documents and in a separate letter on Jan 22, notified the Archives that the FBI came to the former vice-president’s home to collect them.
The discovery puts Mr Pence in the company of his former boss, former president Donald Trump, and President Joe Biden after documents with classified markings were found at their residences.
Mr Jacob said in the Jan 18 letter to the National Archives that “out of an abundance of caution”, Mr Pence had engaged outside counsel to review records stored in his home after reports about the materials found at Mr Biden’s residence.
“Counsel identified a small number of documents that could potentially contain sensitive or classified information interspersed throughout the records,” Mr Jacob wrote.
“Vice-president Pence immediately secured those documents in a locked safe pending further direction on proper handling from the National Archives,” he said. Mr Pence’s counsel did not review the contents of the documents once they were determined to be marked classified, the letter said.
In the letter dated Jan 22, Mr Jacob said the Justice Department “bypassed the standard procedures and requested direct possession” of the documents at Mr Pence’s residence.
With agreement by the former vice-president, FBI agents came to his Indiana home on Jan 19 to collect the documents stored in the safe, Mr Jacob said.
Mr Biden, whose documents dated from his time as vice-president, and Mr Trump, who resisted turning over the items, leading to an FBI raid, are both facing special counsel investigations by the Justice Department over improper handling of classified materials.
During a presidential transition period, the records from each administration are supposed to be turned over to the legal custody of the US National Archives.
The Pence discovery may help ease the political fallout for Mr Biden, who had criticised Mr Trump last fall for his handling of classified materials, leading to charges of hypocrisy when documents at his former office and his garage were found.
The issue has become a political liability for both men, who may face each other in a 2024 presidential race. REUTERS