The classified documents found at Mike Pence’s Indiana home were background briefings ahead of foreign trips, according to a report on Wednesday night.
The documents – around 12 – were found on January 16, and on January 18 Pence’s aides alerted the National Archives.
Sources now tell CNN that the documents were of a lesser classification than the top secret papers found at Joe Biden’s Delaware home and Washington DC office, and than the 300 files found at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort.
It is not unusual for senior government officials to have classified documents in their homes, as they are required for late-night research and reference, but they should be turned over to the National Archives once the official leaves office.
Biden and Pence followed procedure in immediately informing the authorities, as soon as the documents were found: Trump dragged his heels for 15 months, driving the FBI to ultimately raid his Florida home to seize the files and confiscate them.
About a dozen classified documents were found in Mike Pence’s Indiana home
Earlier on Wednesday, a top Democrat applauded Biden and Pence’s handling of finding classified documents in their homes – while admitting he was ‘frustrated’ they had removed the documents in the first place.
‘I’m frustrated if anyone doesn’t handle confidential secret documents in the manner in which they’re supposed to,’ said Pete Aguilar, the chairman of the Democratic Caucus, at a news conference on Wednesday.
‘It’s clear some protocols weren’t followed.’
Aguilar, a Democrat representing California, reflected a growing sentiment on Capitol Hill: lawmakers feel their rules for viewing sensitive material are treated with more care than those across town at the White House.
‘I go to the security facility and read documents often. There’s a process by which we are allowed to do that,’ Aguilar said.
‘There’s a process by which we leave devices and review that material in a safe and secure environment and then leave. It’s clear protocols.’
Aguilar said Biden and Pence handled finding documents ‘the way they should – letting everyone know and talking to the Archives and law enforcement agencies about what was found.’
‘I’m frustrated if anyone doesn’t handle confidential secret documents in the manner in which they’re supposed to,’ Aguilar, the chairman of the Democratic Caucus, told reporters in a news conference Wednesday
Aguilar said Biden and Vice President Pence handled finding documents ‘the way they should’
He didn’t address the fact that the public was informed of the Pence documents days after they were found, but learned of the first tranche of Biden documents months later and after midterm elections.
‘It’s clear that the former president didn’t handle this appropriately,’ Aguilar said, referring to Donald Trump.
‘[He] obstructed every possible avenue in which authorities could leave that material and lied about the material possessions. So you view them differently. But I think altogether, it’s a disappointment,’ the caucus chair added.
A lawyer for former Vice President Mike Pence found about a dozen documents with classified markings when conducting a search at Pence’s request last week.
The boxes was immediately turned over to the FBI and the Justice Department is investigating. The discovery came after Pence repeatedly insisted he did not have any classified documents.
Pence’s lawyer, Greg Jacob, said in his letter to the National Archives, that the former vice president had ‘engaged outside counsel, with experience in handling classified documents’ to review records stored at his home on Jan. 16 ‘out of an abundance of caution’ amid the uproar over the discovery of documents at Biden’s home.
FBI agents visited Pence’s residence the night of Jan. 19 at 9:30 p.m. to collect the documents that had been secured. The vice president was in Washington, DC for an event, at the time.
A total of four boxes containing copies of administration papers —- two in which ‘a small number’ of papers bearing classified markings were found, and two containing ‘courtesy copies of vice presidential papers’ — were discovered, according to the letter. Arrangements were made to deliver those boxes to the National Archives on Monday.
Republican Rep James Comer of Kentucky and chair of the House Oversight Committee, said Pence reached out to offer his cooperation with the congressional panel.
‘Former Vice President Pence’s transparency stands in stark contrast to Biden White House staff who continue to withhold information from Congress and the American people,’ he said in a statement.
Republican Caucus Chair Rep. Elise Stefanik drew a stark contrast between Pence’s and Biden’s handling of classified documents.
‘[Pence] came forward and proactively reached out and is following the process. In the case of Joe Biden, he has had classified documents going back to his time in the Senate where he started serving before I was born,’ she said.
‘So this is a longstanding national security threat, setting aside the fact that Hunter Biden also had access and used as his home address where those documents were improperly and illegally stored.’