- Mattia Bubalo
- BBC News
Secret documents have been found in the home of former US Vice President Mike Pence, in the latest discovery of classified government papers.
The documents, which were discovered by Pence’s lawyer last week at his home in Indiana, have been handed over to the FBI.
Special advisers have been looking for some time how to deal with classified documents that were found in the possession of both current Presidents Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump.
Trump faces a criminal investigation for alleged mishandling of files.
Attorneys representing Pence sent a letter to the National Archives notifying them of the finding of the documents.
In a separate letter, the lawyers added that the FBI came to the former vice president’s home to collect the documents, bypassing “formal procedures” and requesting “immediate possession” of them.
Under the Presidential Records Act, the White House records are supposed to go to the National Archives once the presidential term ends. Regulations provide for archiving and secure storage of these files.
Pence’s lawyers wrote, in a letter shared with US media, that “a small number of documents bearing a top secret seal” were “inadvertently confined and moved” to Pence’s home at the end of Trump’s presidency.
The latest developments became public after Pence sought legal advice from specialists in handling classified documents “out of an abundance of caution”.
He sought advice and assistance “after the story of documents bearing the secret seal at President Joe Biden’s residence in Wilmington became public,” the letter said.
The lawyers found “a small number of documents likely to contain sensitive or confidential information”, which the former vice president had stashed in a document locker.
After the message was revealed to the public, former President Trump rushed to defend Pence, through his platform on social media, Truth Social, and said that he was an “innocent man.”
“He has never done anything willfully dishonest in his life,” Trump wrote. “Leave him alone!!!”
Pence has said repeatedly over the past months that he does not believe he has classified documents.
Earlier this month, he told the BBC’s US partner CBS that he was confident the document reviews at his home were done in a “comprehensive and accurate manner”.
President Biden said, earlier, that he “does not regret” not notifying the public before the midterm elections of the incident of the discovery of classified documents in his private office.
Six other classified documents were found during a 13-hour search of President Biden’s home in Delaware on Friday.
In a statement on Saturday, Bauer said the president offered to “give access to his home to allow the Justice Department to conduct a search of the entire building for possible records of the vice president and possible classified material.”
Earlier this month, Biden’s lawyers said the first batch of classified documents was found on November 2 at the Ben Biden Center, a think tank the president founded in Washington, D.C.
They added that a second batch of records was found on December 20 in the garage of the president’s home in Wilmington, while another document was found in storage at the home on January 12.
The incidents of classified documents being discovered in the possession of Mike Pence and Joe Biden come as Trump faces an investigation over his alleged mishandling of classified government documents.
Hundreds of classified records were found at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida, and Trump and his lawyers resisted ordering the documents to be turned over until the FBI raided the home last August.
Trump has denied any wrongdoing, and has claimed that the FBI treats President Biden better.
A timeline showing the discovery of classified documents:
- November 2, 2022 – The first batch of classified documents was found at the Ben Biden Center, a think tank founded by President Joe Biden in Washington, D.C.
- And on December 20 – the second batch of documents was found in the garage of Joe Biden’s home in Wilmington
- On January 12 – a document was found in a document locker at Biden’s home in Wilmington.
- January 19 – FBI agents come to Mike Pence’s home in Indiana to collect files.
- On January 20 – Justice Department investigators discover six more classified documents during a 13-hour search of President Joe Biden’s home in Delaware.