Mike Pence takes full responsibility for classified documents found in his home

MIAMI (AP) — Former Vice President Mike Pence said Friday he took “full responsibility” after classified documents were discovered at his Indiana home.

In his first public comments since the discovery, Pence said he was unaware the documents were in his residence, but acknowledged his lack of knowledge was no excuse.

“Let’s be clear: These classified documents should not have been in my personal residence,” Pence said at Florida International University, where he was speaking on economics and promoting his new book, “So Help Me God”. “Mistakes were made and I take full responsibility for them.”

The discovery made public by Pence’s team earlier this week marked the latest in a series of recoveries of sensitive papers from the homes of current and former top US officials. The Justice Department was already investigating the discovery of classified documents at former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort and President Joe Biden’s home in Delaware and his former office in Washington.

Pence’s public acceptance of responsibility for his handling of the documents marks a departure from the reactions of Trump, his former boss, and Biden in their own cases. Trump denounced the Mar-a-Lago search as “one of the most shocking abuses of power by any administration in American history” and suggested without evidence that investigators may have withheld the documents. Biden said he was surprised to learn the documents had been found but had “no regrets” about how the public was informed.

The discovery of documents at Pence’s home came five months after he told The Associated Press that he did not take any classified documents with him when he left the vice presidency. “No, not to my knowledge,” he replied when asked if he kept any such information.

The comment — which would typically be trivial for a former vice president — was notable at the time given that FBI agents seized classified and top-secret information from Trump’s estate in Florida on August 8 when they were investigating potential violations of three different federal statutes. Trump claimed that the documents seized by the agents were “all declassified”.

Pence said he decided to undertake the search of his home “out of an abundance of caution” after recent revelations from Biden’s team that documents had been found in his former office and in his Delaware home.

He said he asked his attorney to work with the National Archives, the Justice Department and Congress and cooperate fully with any investigation.

The former vice president said national security depends on the proper handling of classified documents, but he hopes people will realize he acted quickly to correct the error.

“We acted above politics and put national interests first,” he said.

Pence, who remains distant from Trump after the Jan. 6, 2021, uprising on the U.S. Capitol, plans to challenge the White House in 2024 against his former boss, who announced his campaign in November. Biden has said he intends to seek re-election in 2024, although he has yet to officially launch his campaign.

Referring to a potential White House bid, Pence said he was reflecting on the challenges facing the nation. He said many achievements had been “dismantled” by the Biden administration, pointing to problems with immigration and the economy.

“We give powerful considerations about what could be next for us,” he said. “I will continue to travel all over the country. I will continue to listen and reflect.


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