A Justice Department official confirmed that a search occurred Friday.
Law enforcement was in Indiana examining the property for any additional classified materials that may be stored there, according to an individual familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to speak frankly about a sensitive matter.
Pence, who is contemplating a 2024 presidential bid, was traveling to visit newborn grandchildren on the West Coast, but a lawyer for the former vice president was present at the Carmel, Ind., home while the search was underway.
The planned search follows revelations last month that Pence had turned over to the FBI “a small number” of documents bearing classified markings that his lawyers discovered at his home.
The person familiar with the matter said that law enforcement had unrestricted access to search the property and were looking for documents bearing classified marking and materials that were not classified but protected by the Presidential Records Act.
These documents belong to the government and elected officials are not allowed to keep them once they leave office. Pence reportedly was unaware that potentially sensitive government materials were in his home, the person said.
“Following the discovery and disclosure of a small number of potentially classified documents that had inadvertently been transported to his home in Indiana, Vice President Pence and his legal team have fully cooperated with the appropriate authorities and agreed to a consensual search of his residence that took place today,” O’Malley said in a statement. “The Department of Justice completed a thorough and unrestricted search of five hours and removed one document with classified markings and six additional pages without such markings that were not discovered in the initial review by the vice president’s counsel.”
Pence is the latest politician to face scrutiny for potentially mishandling classified materials after leaving elected office. The Justice Department has separate criminal probes into classified documents found at President Biden’s and former president Donald Trump’s personal properties.
But the cases have key differences.
In Trump’s case, the former president appears to have resisted government attempts to obtain official documents for months, including after a grand jury subpoena demanded the return of any material marked classified. That led to the FBI obtaining a search warrant and executing an unannounced search of his property last August. In contrast, Biden’s lawyers said that they allowed law enforcement officials to search his properties.
Two people familiar with the matter said Friday that Trump’s legal team recently gave the Justice Department an additional folder with classified markings that the team said was found at Mar-a-Lago. It was unclear what was in the folder — if anything — these people said. It was found in January at the Florida estate and private club.
Trump’s lawyers hired outside investigators to search his other properties in recent months, and they found additional classified materials at a storage facility in West Palm Beach, Fla., that was being used by the former president.
So far, the search of Pence’s property appears akin to aspects of the Biden case, with Biden’s lawyers saying they are being forthcoming with law enforcement.
In late January, a lawyer for Pence said that the former vice president brought in outside counsel with experience handling classified materials to search records stored in his Indiana home “out of an abundance of caution” after news broke that materials were discovered at Biden’s home.
The lawyer, Greg Jacob, said in a Jan. 18 letter to the National Archives and Records Administration that counsel “identified a small number of documents that could potentially contain sensitive or classified information interspersed throughout the records.” Jacob said that Pence was “ready and willing to cooperate fully.”
Jacob said that Pence gave the FBI permission to collect the classified materials on Jan. 19 and planned to deliver the boxes in which those documents were found to the National Archives on Jan. 23.
In November, Attorney General Merrick Garland assigned veteran federal prosecutor Jack Smith as special counsel to oversee day-to-day operations of the criminal probe of Trump’s handling of classified documents after leaving the White House. Smith is also managing aspects of the Justice Department’s investigation of the events leading up to the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol that are closely linked to Trump.
In January, Garland appointed Robert K. Hur, a former U.S. attorney in Maryland, as a special counsel to oversee the Biden investigation.
The attorney general has not commented on the documents discovered at Pence’s home.