Former Vice President Mike Pence said that he did not take any classified material with him when he left the White House, unlike his former boss Donald Trump.
When asked if he possessed any classified information after leaving office, Pence told the Associated Press on Friday: “No, not to my knowledge.” On August 8, the FBI seized 11 sets of classified documents from Trump’s residence, Mar-a-Lago.
Since leaving office, Pence seems to be toeing a fine line between distancing himself from Trump while also not cutting ties to the former president, or his supporters, entirely.
Pence has maintained a relatively neutral stance regarding the Mar-a-Lago search. Despite the “top secret” markings on the seized documents, Pence said: “I honestly don’t want to prejudge it before until we know all the facts.”
He called on Attorney General Merrick Garland to provide Americans with more information regarding the search of the former president’s estate: “This is unprecedented action by the Justice Department, and I think it merits an unprecedented transparency.” By the same token, earlier this week, Pence also urged fellow Republicans to stop harassing the FBI after a wave of threats targeted federal law enforcement in the wake of the Mar-a-Lago search: “The Republican Party is the party of law and order…These attacks on the FBI must stop.”
This week, Pence also said, if formally asked, he would give “due consideration” to testifying before the January 6 committee—a move that could anger the former president. Trump recently called the select committee’s investigation “the persecution of Donald Trump.”
“Beyond my concerns about the partisan nature of the Jan. 6 committee, there are profound constitutional issues that have to be considered,” Pence said. “No vice president has ever been summoned to testify before the Congress of the United States.” (Many former vice presidents, from Abe Lincoln to Gerald Ford, have voluntarily testified before Congress, CNN reported.)
Capitol rioters chanted, “Hang Mike Pence!” on January 6, after the former vice president refused to block the certification of the 2020 election. Rather than putting an end to the clamor, Trump allegedly told White House chief of staff Mark Meadows that Pence deserved it.
On Friday, Pence said that he would make a decision in early 2023 as to whether he would run for president.