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Pence says he didn’t take classified material, calls for ‘unprecedented transparency’ after Mar-a-Lago raid

Former Vice President Mike Pence said Friday that he did not take any classified information or materials with him after he left office in January 2021.

The comment comes as FBI officials found classified and “top secret” information among boxes of documents during a raid at former President Donald Trump’s private Florida estate, Mar-a-Lago last week. The raid was part of a larger investigation into whether Trump mishandled classified information or potentially violated the Espionage Act.

During an interview with the Associated Press, Pence was specifically asked if he retained any such documents or information.

“No, not to my knowledge,” Pence answered.

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The former president, who some believe could be pursuing the Republican nomination for the presidency in 2024, said he would not rush to judge Trump over the FBI’s findings, however.

“I honestly don’t want to prejudge it before until we know all the facts,” Pence said about the raid. He also called for transparency by the Justice Department for the “unprecedented action.”

“The concern that millions of Americans felt is only going to be resolved with daylight,” he continued. “I know that’s not customary in an investigation. But this is unprecedented action by the Justice Department, and I think it merits an unprecedented transparency.”

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The former vice president also addressed Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney’s primary loss to Trump-endorsed challenger Harriet Hageman. Cheney is a vocal critic of Trump and is one of the Republicans on the House Committee Investigating the Capitol Riots on January 6th.

“The people of Wyoming have spoken,” Pence answered, walking his typical fine line of addressing the issue without speaking ill of his former boss or offending Republicans who supported her. “And, you know, I accept their judgment about the kind of representation they want on Capitol Hill.”

Former Vice President Mike Pence walks through the Varied Industries Building during a visit to the Iowa State Fair, Friday, Aug. 19, 2022, in Des Moines, Iowa. 

“And I appreciate the conservative stance Congresswoman Cheney has taken over the years,” he added. “But I’ve been disappointed in the partisan taint of the Jan. 6 committee from early on.”

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The committee has repeatedly called forth former Trump administration officials to testify on the events on Jan. 6, 2021, to determine if Trump played a role in advocating for an invasion of the Capitol building that resulted in several deaths.

Former Vice President Mike Pence greets fairgoers during a visit to the Iowa State Fair, Friday, Aug. 19, 2022, in Des Moines, Iowa. 

Committee members have also sought Pence’s testimony before they wrap up their investigative report next month.

“Beyond my concerns about the partisan nature of the Jan. 6 committee, there are profound constitutional issues that have to be considered,” he said. “No vice president has ever been summoned to testify before the Congress of the United States.”

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The interview came as Pence spent two days in Iowa, a state usually visited by potential presidential candidates as its caucus kicks off primary elections. Winners of the Iowa Caucus typically use that early momentum to bolster fundraising and gain polling leads that will help them in other state primaries. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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