Justice Dept. and Pence discussing a consensual FBI search of his home
The Washington Post February 3, 2023
Federal law enforcement officials are in discussions with former vice president Mike Pence's legal team to perform a consensual search of his Indiana home to ensure there are no additional classified materials on the property, according to a person familiar with the matter.
An exact date for the search has not been set, the person said. The search follows revelations last week that the former vice president handed over to the FBI "a small number" of documents bearing classified markings that his lawyers discovered at his home.
Pence, a potential 2024 presidential candidate, is the latest politician to face scrutiny for potentially mishandling classified materials after leaving elected office. The Justice Department currently has two separate criminal probes into classified documents found at President Biden's and former president Donald Trump's personal properties. In Trump's case, the former president appears to have resisted government attempts to obtain official documents for months, including after a grand jury subpoena demanded the return of any material marked classified.
That led to an FBI search of Trump's Florida property in which agents recovered 300 documents marked as classified. So far, the specifics around the retention of documents found on Pence's property appear to be drastically different, with the former vice president's lawyers saying they are being forthcoming with law enforcement. Biden's lawyers have also said that they allowed law enforcement officials to search his properties.
The Wall Street Journal first reported that Pence's team is in contact with the Justice Department to schedule a search.
Spokespeople for the Justice Department and FBI declined to comment.
In a response on Twitter to reports of a potential search on Pence's property, Devin O'Malley, a spokesman for Pence, accused Justice Department officials of leaking to the press. He declined to comment further.
In late January, a lawyer for Pence said that the former vice president brought in outside counsel with experience handling classified materials to search records stored in his Indiana home "out of an abundance of caution" after news broke that materials were discovered at Biden's home.
The lawyer, Greg Jacob, said in a Jan. 18 letter to the National Archives that counsel "identified a small number of documents that could potentially contain sensitive or classified information interspersed throughout the records." Jacob said that Pence was "ready and willing to cooperate fully."
Jacob said that Pence gave the FBI permission to collect the classified materials on Jan. 19 and planned to deliver the boxes in which those documents were found to the National Archives on Jan 23.
O'Malley said at the time that no classified documents were found at the offices of Pence's nonprofit organization, Advancing American Freedom.
In November, Attorney General Merrick Garland assigned veteran federal prosecutor Jack Smith as special counsel to oversee day-to-day operations of the criminal probe of Trump's handling of classified documents after leaving the White House. Smith is also managing aspects of the Justice Department's investigation of the events leading up to the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol that are most closely linked to Trump.
In January, Garland appointed Robert Hur as a special counsel to oversee the Biden investigation.
The attorney general has not commented on the documents discovered at Pence's home.