By Elizabeth Stuart, Jeremy Herb and Jamie Gangel | VFAB
About a week after Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed a special counsel to investigate President Joe Biden’s handling of classified documents, former Vice President Mike Pence asked an attorney to review four boxes of documents stored in his Indiana home, according to an attorney for Pence.
The lawyer discovered about a dozen classified documents in the boxes, which have since been turned over to the FBI, VFAB first reported on Tuesday.
VFAB has assembled a timeline based on conversations with sources familiar with the matter and on two letters sent by Pence attorney Greg Jacob to the National Archives.
Aug. 20 — After the FBI searches former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort to retrieve classified documents, Pence is asked in Iowa whether he had taken any classified information with him when he left office. “No, not to my knowledge,” he told the Associated Press.
Nov. 15 — In an interview with ABC News in his Indiana home where the classified documents would eventually be found, Pence is asked again if he took classified material from the White House. “I did not,” Pence responds.
“Well, there’d be no reason to have classified documents, particularly if they were in an unprotected area,” Pence continues. “But I will tell you that I believe there had to be many better ways to resolve that issue than executing a search warrant at the personal residence of a former president of the United States.”
Jan. 10 — In an interview with CBS, Pence reiterates that he and his staff had reviewed all “materials in our office and in our residence to ensure that there were no classified materials that — that left the White House or remained in our possession.”
He continues, “I remain confident that that was done in a thorough and careful way.”
Jan. 16 — In the wake of news that Biden’s personal attorneys had discovered classified documents at his private office in Washington and at his residence in Wilmington, Delaware, Pence asks his attorney to review four boxes of documents at his Carmel, Indiana, home. The lawyer, Matt Morgan, identifies about a dozen documents with classified markings in the boxes. Pence “immediately secured those documents in a locked safe pending further direction on proper handling from the National Archives,” Jacob writes in a letter to the Archives.
Jan. 18 — Pence’s legal team notifies the National Archives and requests that they take custody of the documents in question. According to an attorney for Pence, they also set up a phone call with the Archives for the following day to discuss the process for collecting the records.
Jan. 19, 12 p.m. — Pence’s legal team has a phone conversation around noon with the Archives’ chief operating officer and general counsel, during which the Archives suggests Pence provide all four boxes to the Archives so they can review the materials for compliance with the Presidential Records Act and confirm if the dozen records are classified.
9:30 p.m. — The Justice Department asks Pence whether it can retrieve the material with classified markings from Pence’s home that evening, and Pence agrees. FBI agents from the Indianapolis field office arrive at Pence’s home around 9:30 p.m. to collect the documents. “The transfer was facilitated by the Vice President’s personal attorney, who has experience in handling classified documents,” according to a letter from Jacob to the Archives.
Jan. 20 — Pence’s legal team contacts the Archives again to reiterate the offer of handing over the four boxes, in addition to the documents the FBI had already collected. The Archives indicates that they don’t have someone who could collect the boxes, so it’s decided Pence’s “agents” would “transport the four boxes to Washington DC.”
Jan. 23 — The four boxes are driven from Indiana to Washington, DC. According to Jacob’s letter to the Archives, he personally delivers the four boxes on Monday morning.