DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Former Vice President Mike Pence said Friday that he did not take any 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 classified information from his former boss’s Florida estate on August 8 while investigating possible violations of three laws different federal Former President Donald Trump has claimed that the documents seized by agents were “all declassified”.
Pence, asked directly if he had kept any classified information when he left office, told The Associated Press in an interview: “Not that I know of.”
Despite the inclusion of material marked as “top secret” on the government’s list of items recovered from Mar-a-Lago, Pence said, “Honestly, I 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 first Republican presidential caucuses. It comes as the former vice president has made stops in other early voting states as he takes steps to mount a 2024 White House campaign.
Pence also weighed in on Republican U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney’s loss earlier in the week to a Trump-backed challenger. Cheney, who is arguably Trump’s most prominent Republican critic, has called the former president “a very serious threat and risk to our republic” and further increased his anger over her role as the committee’s vice chair of the House investigating the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the United States Capitol.
“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 accept their judgment about 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 was disappointed by the partisan taint of the Jan. 6 committee from the get-go.”
Aides to Pence said the committee reached out to his legal team months ago to see if he would be willing to testify. While Pence has said he would give “due consideration” to cooperation, he was adamant that the historic nature of such engagement must be secured and agreed upon.
“Beyond my concerns about the partisan nature of the Jan. 6 committee, there are deep constitutional questions that must be considered,” he said. “No vice president has ever been subpoenaed to testify before the United States Congress.”
Speaking more about the Mar-a-Lago search, the former vice president raised the possibility, as he has in the past, that the investigation was politically motivated and asked Attorney General Merrick Garland to reveal more details about what led to the authorities to carry out the search. .
“The concern 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 uprising marked the first of a series of public rifts between Trump and his once loyal No. 2. But Pence has been careful not to alienate Republicans who have supported Trump but may be looking for 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 the US Capitol and, more recently, urging fellow Republicans to stop attacking the FBI for the Mar-a-Lago search.
“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 fine blue line at the federal, state and local levels, and these attacks on the FBI must stop.”
Pence said Friday he would make a decision early next year about whether to run for the White House, a move aides have said will be independent of what Trump decides to do.
After visiting 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 conservative Christian group and a fundraiser for fundraiser for the North Iowa County Republican Party before leaving on Saturday.