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US: Classified documents found at Mike Pence's home

January 24, 2023

The former vice president's lawyer said the documents "were inadvertently boxed." The find is the latest in a string of incidents involving sensitive files found at the residences of high-ranking US politicians.

https://p.dw.com/p/4MeOW
Mike Pence
Mike Pence was vice president under Donald TrumpImage: Mark J. Terrill/AP/dpa/picture alliance

Documents labeled as classified were discovered at the Indiana home of former US Vice President Mike Pence last week, according to his lawyer.

"The additional records appear to be a small number of documents bearing classified markings that were inadvertently boxed and transported to the personal home of the former vice president at the end of the last administration," attorney Greg Jacob told the National Archives in a letter last week.

He added that Pence was "unaware of the existence of sensitive or classified documents at his personal residence" and that he was "ready and willing to cooperate fully with the National Archives and any appropriate inquiry."

How were the documents discovered?

After documents with classified markings were found in the home of US President Joe Biden earlier this month, Pence engaged "outside counsel" to review documents stored at his residence out of "an abundance of caution," according to Jacob. 

More classified documents found at Biden's Delaware home

When documents considered classified were discovered, they were immediately locked in a safe, he added. 

The National Archives was then informed about the discovery, after which the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) collected the files from the former vice president's home.

The National Archives is responsible for the preservation and documentation of US government and historical records, which are to be handed over during a presidential transition period. 

For national security reasons, knowingly or willfully removing or keeping classified material is illegal. 

Pence joins Biden, Trump 

The US Justice Department is already investigating document finds at the home and former Washington office of President Biden. Some of the documents in question date back to when Biden was vice president under Barack Obama. 

In the aftermath of the discovery, Biden has allowed investigators to search his home, in an attempt to show transparency that he never intended to keep any classified material. 

In the case of former President Donald Trump, a trove of over 300 documents marked classified, including those at the top-secret level, were discovered at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida. 

Papers on a carpeted floor
Former President Trump is being investigated over the handling of classified documents found at his Florida estateImage: Department of Justice/AP Photo/picture alliance

Federal investigators are probing whether Trump obstructed justice in his attempts to prevent the government from accessing the documents.

Officials are also trying to determine whether Trump or anyone else should be charged with illegal possession of the classified documents. 

wmr/nm (Reuters, AP)