The FBI searched former Vice President Mike Pence ‘s Indiana home on Friday for possible classified records, following the discovery by his lawyers last month of sensitive government documents there, according to two people familiar with the action.
The search, described as consensual after negotiations between Pence’s representatives and the Justice Department, comes as he has been subpoenaed in a separate investigation into efforts by former President Donald Trump to overturn the 2020 election and as Pence contemplates a Republican bid for the White House in 2024.
Pence is now the third current or former top U.S. official, joining Trump and President Joe Biden, to have their homes scoured by FBI agents for classified records. The willingness of Pence and Biden to permit the FBI to search their homes, and to present themselves as fully co-operative, reflects a desire by both to avoid the drama that enveloped Trump last year and resulted in the Justice Department having to get a warrant to inspect his Florida property.
Police blocked the road outside Pence’s neighbourhood in Carmel, just north of Indianapolis, on Friday afternoon as the FBI was inside the home. Pence himself was out of state, visiting family in California after the birth of a grandchild.
A member of Pence’s legal team was at the home, according to one of the people familiar with the situation who spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity to discuss law enforcement action. That person said the FBI was given unrestricted access.
The FBI had already taken possession of what Pence’s lawyer previously described as a “small number of documents” that had been “inadvertently boxed and transported” to Pence’s Indiana home at the end of the Trump administration.
The Justice Department did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
Separate special counsels have been investigating the discovery of documents with classification markings at Biden’s home in Delaware and his former Washington office, as well as Trump’s Florida estate. Officials are trying to determine whether Trump or anyone on his team criminally obstructed the probe in refusing to turn over the documents before the FBI seizure. The FBI recovered more than 100 documents marked classified while serving a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago last August.
The circumstances of the Biden and Pence cases are markedly different from that of Trump.
Pence, according to his lawyer Greg Jacob, had requested a review by his attorneys of records stored at his home “out of an abundance of caution” during the uproar over the discovery of classified documents at Biden’s home and former private office. When the Pence documents were discovered, Jacob said, they were secured in a locked safe and reported to the National Archives. FBI agents then collected them.
Material found in the boxes came mostly from the Naval Observatory residence where Pence lived while he was vice president. Other material came from a West Wing office drawer.
Pence has said he was unaware the documents had been in his possession.
“Let me be clear: Those classified documents should not have been in my personal residence,” Pence said recently at Florida International University. “Mistakes were made, and I take full responsibility.”
“We acted above politics and put national interests first,” he said.
The National Archives last month asked former U.S. presidents and vice president s to recheck their personal records for any classified documents following news of the Biden and Pence discoveries.
The Presidential Records Act states that any records created or received by the president while in office are the property of the U.S. government and will be managed by the Archives at the end of an administration.