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Pence accepts ‘full responsibility’ over classified documents found at his home

Mike Pence (Peter Summers/PA)
Mike Pence (Peter Summers/PA)

Former vice president Mike Pence has said he takes “full responsibility” after classified documents were found at his Indiana home.

In his first public comments since the discovery, Mr Pence said he had not been aware that the documents were in his residence but his lack of knowledge was not an excuse.

“Let me be clear about something: those classified documents should not have been in my personal residence,” he said at Florida International University, where he was talking about the economy and promoting his new book, So Help Me God.

“Mistakes were made,” he added.

The discovery made public by Mr Pence’s team earlier this week marked the latest in a string of recoveries of sensitive papers from the homes of current and former top US officials.

Classified Documents Unsafe Secrets
Documents seized during the August 8 search by the FBI of former president Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate (Department of Justice/AP)

The Department of Justice was already investigating the discovery of classified documents in former president Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida and at President Joe Biden’s home in Delaware and his former Washington office.

The announcement of the documents in Mr Pence’s possession came five months after he told the Associated Press that he did not take classified documents with him when he left the vice presidency.

“No, not to my knowledge,” he said when asked if he had retained any such information.

The comment — which would typically be unremarkable for a former vice president — was notable at the time given that FBI agents had seized classified and top secret information from his former boss’s Florida estate on August 8 while investigating potential violations of federal laws.

Mr Trump claimed the documents seized by agents were “all declassified”.

Mr Pence said he decided to undertake the search of his home “out of an abundance of caution” after recent disclosures by Mr Biden’s team that documents were found at his former office and in his Delaware home.

“I take full responsibility” over the documents discovered in Indiana, Mr Pence said on Friday, adding that he had directed his counsel to work with the National Archives, Department of Justice and Congress and fully co-operate in any investigation.

The former vice president said national security depends on the proper handling of classified documents, but he hopes people realise that he acted swiftly to correct the error.

“We acted above politics and put national interests first,” he said.