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No charges coming from Pence inquiry

Trump says he merits same outcome by Compiled byDemocrat-Gazette stafffrom wire reports | June 3, 2023 at 4:00 a.m.
Former Vice President Mike Pence talks with Iowa residents during a meet-and-greet in Des Moines in this May 23, 2023 file photo. (AP/Charlie Neibergall)

The Justice Department has declined to pursue charges against former Vice President Mike Pence in its investigation into his retention of classified documents at his home in Indiana, officials said Friday.

A Justice Department official said the agency sent a one-page letter to Pence's lawyer Thursday informing him of the decision. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because the letter has not been publicly released.

The FBI and the Justice Department's national security division "conducted an investigation into the potential mishandling of classified information," the department wrote to Pence's lawyer, according to a person who had read the letter. Based on the results of that investigation, "no criminal charges will be sought," that person said.

A spokesman for Pence, who is expected to enter the race for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination next week, said the former vice president was "pleased but not surprised."

The investigation launched earlier this year, amid a broader probe of former president Donald Trump's handling of classified material and the separate discovery that President Joe Biden had some classified documents in his possession after his time in the Senate and as vice president, before he became commander in chief.

Pence attorney Greg Jacob said in January that Pence had initiated a search of records stored in his Indiana home "out of an abundance of caution," to examine whether he -- like Trump and Biden -- potentially kept any records that should have stayed with the government.

In a Jan. 18 letter to the National Archives and Records Administration, Jacob said the outside counsel tapped to conduct the search had "identified a small number of documents that could potentially contain sensitive or classified information interspersed throughout the records." Pence had been unaware that the documents were at his home and was "ready and willing to cooperate fully," Jacob wrote. The material was subsequently turned over to the FBI.

No special counsel was appointed to investigate Pence. Two Justice Department special counsels are continuing to investigate the handling of classified documents by Trump and Biden.

Biden, like Pence, agreed to additional searches of the office and his homes, in which several more documents were found. His lawyers say they promptly turned over all relevant material to authorities and have cooperated fully with the appropriate government agencies.

In Trump's case, the National Archives tried for months to retrieve government documents and other materials that officials with the agency believed the former president had improperly kept with him. Eventually, Trump returned 15 boxes of material to the archives. Once classified material was discovered inside those boxes, the Justice Department launched an investigation.

The government sent a grand jury subpoena to Trump's lawyers in May 2022 seeking the return of all material with classified markings in the former president's possession.

Nearly 40 additional documents were returned, but the Justice Department developed evidence that more classified material remained. A court-approved FBI search of Mar-a-Lago, Trump's Florida home and private club, turned up more than 100 additional classified documents, some containing highly sensitive and secret information.

The Washington Post has reported that prosecutors have identified numerous instances in which Trump and his team may have tried to obstruct the government investigation, according to people familiar with the matter, who have spoken on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing criminal investigation.

The evidence obtained by prosecutors includes witness testimony and video footage that shows workers moving boxes at Mar-a-Lago; a conversation about how long video surveillance footage is kept before it is erased; and an audio recording of Trump -- months after leaving office -- describing a multi-page document that he claims is about possibly attacking Iran, expressing a desire to share that information with others but also making some kind of acknowledgment that he shouldn't do so.

In a message posted Friday after news broke of the Justice Department letter to Pence's attorney, Trump said it was "great" that his former vice president would not be charged and demanded a similar outcome for himself.

"When am I going to be fully exonerated," Trump wrote on Truth Social. "I'm at least as innocent as he is."

Information for this article was contributed by Perry Stein and Devlin Barrett of The Washington Post, by Jill Colvin and Eric Tucker of The Associated Press and by Maggie Haberman and Glenn Thrush of The New York Times.

Print Headline: No charges coming from Pence inquiry


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