Pence Grilled on Whether He Took Classified Info Upon Exit

'No, not to my knowledge,' former VP told the AP
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 20, 2022 6:00 AM CDT
Pence: FYI, I Didn't Take Classified Materials With Me
Former Vice President Mike Pence is seen during a visit to the Iowa State Fair on Friday in Des Moines, Iowa.   (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Former Vice President Mike Pence said Friday that he didn't take any classified information with him when he left office. The disclosure—which would typically be unremarkable for a former vice president—is notable given that FBI agents seized classified and top secret information from his former boss's Florida estate on Aug. 8 while investigating potential violations of three different federal laws. Former President Donald Trump has claimed that the documents seized by agents were "all declassified." Pence, asked directly if he'd retained any classified information upon leaving office, told the AP in an interview, "No, not to my knowledge." Despite the inclusion of material marked "top secret" in the government's list of items recovered from Mar-a-Lago, Pence said, "I honestly don't want to prejudge it before until we know all the facts."

Pence was in Iowa on Friday as part of a two day-trip to the state, which hosts the leadoff Republican presidential caucuses. It comes as the former vice president has made stops in other early voting states as he takes steps toward mounting a 2024 White House campaign. Pence also weighed in on Republican US Rep. Liz Cheney's primary defeat earlier in the week to a rival backed by Trump. Cheney, who's arguably Trump's most prominent Republican critic, has called the former president "a very grave threat and risk to our republic" and further raised his ire through her role as vice chair of the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the US Capitol. "My reaction was, the people of Wyoming have spoken," said Pence, who was targeted at the Capitol that day by angry rioters, including some who chanted, "Hang Mike Pence!"

"I accept their judgment about the kind of representation they want on Capitol Hill," he added. "I appreciate the conservative stance Congresswoman Cheney has taken over the years. But I've been disappointed in the partisan taint of the Jan. 6 committee from early on." Pence's aides said the committee contacted his legal team months ago to see if he'd be willing to testify; he has said he would give "due consideration" to cooperating. Speaking further about the search of Mar-a-Lago, the former vice president raised the possibility, as he has previously, that the investigation was politically motivated and called on Attorney General Merrick Garland to disclose more details on what led authorities to conduct the search. Pence also noted he'll make a decision early next year about whether to run for the White House, a move his aides have said will be independent of what Trump decides to do.

(Read more Mike Pence stories.)

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