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Classified documents found at Mike Pence’s Indiana home

(CNN) — A lawyer for former Vice President Mike Pence discovered about a dozen documents marked classified at the former vice president’s home in Indiana last week, and turned those classified records over to the FBI, multiple sources familiar with the matter told CNN.

The FBI and the Justice Department’s Homeland Security Division began a review of the documents and how they ended up at Pence’s home in Indiana.

The classified documents were discovered at Pence’s new home in Carmel, Indiana, by one of his lawyers in the wake of revelations about classified material discovered at President Joe Biden’s office and private residence, the sources said. The discovery comes after Pence repeatedly said that he did not have any classified documents in his possession.

It is not yet clear what the documents are related to or their level of sensitivity or classification. Pence’s team plans to notify Congress on the matter this Tuesday.

Pence asked his attorney to search his home out of an abundance of caution, and the attorney began going through four boxes stored in the home and found a small number of documents with classified markings, the sources said.

Pence’s attorney immediately alerted the National Archives, the sources said. In turn, the Archives informed the Department of Justice.

A lawyer for Pence told CNN that the FBI requested to pick up the documents with classified marks that night, and Pence agreed. Agents from the FBI’s Indianapolis field office collected the documents from Pence’s home, the lawyer said.

On Monday, Pence’s legal team brought the boxes back to Washington, D.C., and turned them over to the Archives to review the rest of the material for compliance with the Presidential Records Act.

In a letter to the National Archives obtained by CNN, Pence’s representative, Greg Jacob, wrote that a “small number of documents with classified marks” were inadvertently packed and transported to the vice president’s home.

“Vice President Pence was unaware of the existence of confidential or classified documents at his personal residence,” Jacob wrote. “Vice President Pence understands the great importance of protecting confidential and classified information and stands ready and willing to cooperate fully with the National Archives and any appropriate investigation.”

The classified material was stored in boxes that first went to Pence’s temporary home in Virginia before being moved to Indiana, according to the sources. The boxes were not in a secure area, but once the classified documents were discovered, sources said they were placed inside a safe located in the house.

Mike Pence's house.

Mike Pence’s house.

Pence’s office in Washington DC was also searched, Pence’s lawyer said, and no classified material or other documents covered by the Presidential Records Act were discovered.

The news about Pence comes as special counsel is investigating the handling of classified documents by both Biden and former President Donald Trump. The revelations also come amid speculation that Pence is preparing to run for the Republican nomination for president in 2024.

Since the FBI searched Trump’s Florida home in August with a search warrant for classified material, Pence said no classified material was left behind when he left office. “No, not that I know of,” he told The Associated Press in August.

In November, ABC News asked Pence at his Indiana home if he had taken any classified White House documents.

“I didn’t,” Pence replied.

“Well, there would be no reason to have classified documents, particularly if they were in an unprotected area,” Pence continued. “But I will tell you that I think there have to be much better ways to solve that problem than to execute a search warrant on the personal residence of a former president of the United States.”

While Pence’s vice-presidential office generally did a rigorous job while he left office classifying and turning over any classified and unclassified materials covered by the Presidential Records Act, these classified documents appear to have slipped through the process because most of the materials were packaged separately at the vice president’s residence, along with Pence’s personal documents, sources told CNN.

The vice president’s residence at the US Naval Observatory in Washington has a secure facility for handling classified material along with other security, and it would be common for classified documents to be there for the vice president to review.

Some of the boxes were packed at the vice president’s residence, while others arrived from the White House in the waning days of the Trump administration, including last-minute items that didn’t go through the process that the rest of the Pence documents did.

The discovery of classified documents at Pence’s residence marks the third time in recent history that a president or vice president inappropriately possessed classified material after leaving office. Both Biden and Trump are now under investigation by separate special counsel for their handling of classified materials.

Sources familiar with the process say Pence’s discovery of classified documents after the Trump and Biden controversies would suggest a more systemic problem related to classified material and the Presidential Records Act, which requires official House records Blanca are handed over to the National Archives at the end of a Government.

On Friday, the FBI searched Biden’s Wilmington residence for additional classified material, an unprecedented search of the home of a sitting president that turned up six additional items containing classified trademarks. The search was conducted after Biden’s lawyers discovered classified material in Wilmington following the initial discovery of classified documents in Biden’s private office in November.

Biden’s lawyers say they are cooperating fully with the Justice Department, trying to differentiate themselves from the investigation into Trump.

The FBI obtained a search warrant to search Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in August. Federal investigators took that action because they believed Trump had not turned over all classified material despite a subpoena and were concerned that the searches at Mar-a-Lago were being moved.

Last week, Pence told Larry Kudlow in an interview with Fox Business that he received the President’s Daily Brief at the vice president’s residence.

“I used to get up early. I would go to the safe where my military aide placed these classified materials. He would take them out, go through them,” Pence said. “I would get a presentation on them and then, frankly, most of the time, Larry would just put them back in the file that he had received them in. The military aide would gather and then destroy those classified materials, the same goes for the materials he would receive at the White House.”

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