Pence says he did not leave the office with classified material

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Former Vice President Mike Pence said Friday that he did not take classified information with him when he left office.

The revelation — which would normally be unremarkable for a former vice president — is notable given that FBI agents seized classified and top-secret information from his former boss’ Florida estate on Aug. 8 while investigating possible violations of three different federal laws. Former President Donald Trump claimed the documents seized by agents were “all declassified.”

Pence, who was asked directly if he had kept classified information while leaving office, told The Associated Press in an interview: “No, I don’t know.”

Despite the inclusion of “top secret” material on the administration’s list of items recovered from Mar-a-Lago, Pence said, “I honestly don’t want to prejudge it until we know all the facts.”

Pence was in Iowa on Friday as part of a two-day trip to the state, which is hosting the Republican presidential primary. It comes as the former vice president has made stops in other early voting states as he makes strides toward a 2024 White House campaign.

Pence also weighed in on Republican U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney’s primary loss earlier in the week to a Trump-backed opponent. Cheney, who is arguably Trump’s most prominent Republican critic, called the former president “a very serious threat and danger to our democracy” and further raised his ire over her role as vice chairman of the House committee investigating the 6 January 2021. U.S. Capitol riot.

“My reaction was that 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!” “And, you know, I take their judgment on what kind of representation they want on Capitol Hill.”

Pence said he has “great respect” for Cheney’s father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, who served two terms under President George W. Bush.

“And I appreciate the conservative stance that Congresswoman Cheney has taken over the years,” Pence continued. “But I am disappointed by the partisan taint of the Jan. 6 committee early on.”

Pence’s aides said the committee contacted his legal team months ago to see if he would be willing to testify. While Pence said he would give “due consideration” to the partnership, he was adamant that the historic nature of such involvement must be justified and agreed upon.

“Beyond my concerns about the partisan nature of the January 6 commission, there are deep constitutional issues that must be considered,” he said. “No vice president has ever been called to testify before the United States Congress.”

Speaking further about the Mar-a-Lago investigation, the former vice president raised the possibility, as he has previously, that the probe was politically motivated and called on Attorney General Merrick Garland to reveal more details about what led authorities to conduct the research. .

“The anxiety felt by millions of Americans will only be resolved in the light of day,” Pence said Friday. “I know this is unusual in an investigation. But this is an unprecedented action by the Department of Justice, and I think it deserves unprecedented transparency.”

The Jan. 6 debacle marked the first in a series of public spats between Trump and his once-loyal No. 2. But Pence was careful not to alienate Republicans who supported Trump but may seek another candidate in the 2024 election. Despite his reluctance to criticize the former president, Pence has occasionally spoken out against Trump, criticizing the attack on Capitol Hill of the US and more recently urging his Republican colleagues to stop attacking the FBI over the Mar-a-Lago investigation.

“The Republican Party is the party of law and order,” Pence said Wednesday at a political breakfast in New Hampshire. “Our party stands with the men and women who stand on the thin blue line at the federal and state and local levels, and these attacks on the FBI must stop.”

Pence said Friday he would make a decision early next year on whether to run for the White House, a move aides said would be independent of what Trump decides to do.

Having visited the Iowa State Fair Friday afternoon, Pence also headlined a fundraiser earlier in the day for Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley and was scheduled to speak to a Christian conservative group and a county GOP fundraiser. of northern Iowa before leaving on Saturday.

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