An attorney for former Vice President Mike Pence discovered about a dozen documents marked classified in Pence’s Indiana home last week, and he turned those classified documents over to the FBI, multiple sources familiar with the case told CNN.
The FBI and the Justice Department’s National Security Division have launched an investigation into the documents and how they ended up at Pence’s Indiana home.
The classified documents were discovered at Pence’s new home in Carmel, Indiana, by a lawyer for Pence in the wake of the revelations about classified materials discovered 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 refer to or what their sensitivity or classification is. Pence’s team plans to notify Congress on Tuesday.
Pence asked his attorney to search his home with great caution, and the attorney last week began searching four boxes stored in Pence’s home and found a small number of documents with secret markings, the sources said.
Pence’s attorney immediately alerted the National Archives, the sources said. The archives in turn notified the Justice Department.
A lawyer for Pence told CNN that the FBI had asked for the secret-marked documents to be retrieved that evening, and Pence agreed. Agents from the Indianapolis FBI office retrieved the documents from Pence’s home, the attorney said.
On Monday, Pence’s legal team returned the boxes to Washington, DC, and turned them over to the archives to review the rest of the material for compliance with the Presidential Records Act.
In a letter to the National Archives obtained by CNN, Greg Jacob, Pence’s representative at the Archives, wrote that a “small number of documents with secret markings” had been accidentally boxed and taken to the vice president’s home. had been transported.
“Vice President Pence was unaware of the existence of any sensitive or classified documents in his personal residence,” Jacob wrote. “Vice President Pence understands the paramount importance of protecting sensitive and classified information and stands ready and willing to fully cooperate with the National Archives and any appropriate investigation.”
The secret material, according to the sources, was stored in boxes that first went to Pence’s temporary home in Virginia before being moved to Indiana. The boxes were not in a secure room, but once the classified documents were discovered, sources said they were placed in a safe in the house.
Pence’s Washington, D.C., office was also searched, Pence’s lawyer said, and no classified material or other documents covered by the Presidential Records Act were discovered.
The news about Pence comes as special counsel investigates handling of classified documents by both Biden and former President Donald Trump. The revelations also come amid speculation that Pence is gearing up for a run for the 2024 Republican nomination for president.
Since the FBI searched Trump’s Florida home for classified material in August with a search warrant, Pence has said he had not withheld any classified material when he left. “No, not as far as I know,” he told The Associated Press in August.
In November, Pence was asked by ABC News at his Indiana home if he had taken secret White House documents.
“I didn’t,” Pence replied.
“Well, there would be no reason to have classified documents, especially if they were in an unprotected area,” Pence continued. “But I will tell you that I think there had to be much better ways to solve that problem than executing a search warrant in the personal residence of a former president of the United States.”
While Pence’s vice presidential office in general did a rigorous job when he left office sorting and transferring all classified material and unclassified material covered by the Presidential Records Act, these secret documents appear to have been inadvertently passed through the process to have slipped because most of the materials were packed away from the vice president’s residence, along with Pence’s personal papers, the sources told CNN.
The vice president’s residence at the U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington has a secure facility for processing classified materials along with other security, and it would be common for classified documents to be there for the vice president to review.
Some boxes were packed from the vice president’s residence, while others came from the White House in the final days of the Trump administration, including last-minute things that didn’t go through the process that the rest of Pence’s documents did.
The discovery of classified documents in Pence’s residence marks the third time in recent history that a president or vice president has improperly possessed classified materials after leaving office. Both Biden and Trump are now being investigated by separate special counsel for their handling of classified material.
Sources familiar with the process say Pence’s discovery of classified documents following the Trump-Biden controversies would point to a more systemic problem involving classified materials and the Presidential Records Act, which requires official documents from the White House to be turned over to the National Archives at the end of an administration.
On Friday, the FBI searched Biden’s Wilmington residence for additional classified material, an unprecedented search of the home of a sitting president turned up six additional items with secret markings. The search was conducted after Biden’s lawyers discovered classified materials in Wilmington following the initial discovery of classified documents in Biden’s private think office in November.
Biden’s lawyers say they are cooperating fully with the Justice Department and want to make a distinction with the Trump investigation.
The FBI received a search warrant in August to search Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort. Federal investigators took that step because they believed Trump had not turned over all of the classified material despite a subpoena and were concerned that the data in Mar-a-Lago was being moved.
Last week, Pence told Larry Kudlow in a Fox Business interview that he received the President’s Daily Brief at the vice president’s residence.
‘I would get up early. I would go to the safe where my military aide would place those secret materials. I’d take them out and look at them,” Pence said. “I got a presentation to them and then, honestly, more often than not Larry, I just returned them to the file I received them in. They usually went in what was called a fire bag that my military aide would collecting and then destroying classified materials – the same goes for materials I would receive at the White House.