Former Vice President Mike Pence took a thinly veiled swipe at President Biden’s handling of classified documents Friday — while also telling a Florida audience that he and former President Donald Trump “went our separate ways.”
Pence, 63, implicitly blasted Biden’s more than two-month-long public concealment of the discovery of classified records from his vice presidency — while also addressing recently uncovered secret papers at Pence’s Indiana home.
“While I was not aware that the classified documents were in our personal residence, let me be clear, those classified documents should not have been in my personal residence,” the former Hoosier State governor said. “Mistakes were made and I take full responsibility.”
“Our national security depends on the proper handling of classified and sensitive materials. And I know that when errors are made, it’s important that they be resolved swiftly and disclosed,” he went on, drawing a contrast with Biden.
“My only hope is that the American people look at our conduct in this matter and that they see that we acted above politics and put the national interest first,” Pence added while promoting his book “So Help Me God” at the Florida International University in Miami.
Pence is a possible 2024 Republican presidential candidate and acknowledged that he and his former boss Trump, 76 — who launched a 2024 comeback bid in November — are no longer allied after Trump “returned” to rhetoric claiming the 2020 election results were fraudulent.
“[Trump] and I actually parted amicably at the close the administration. In the months that followed, we spoke from time to time, but when the president returned to some of the rhetoric that he was using before that fateful day in January of 2021, I just decided it would be best if we went our separate ways and we have,” Pence said.
While vice president, Pence defied Trump’s demand that he unilaterally reject swing-state electors for Biden while presiding over the counting of Electoral College votes, provoking Trump’s rage as a mob stormed the Capitol to disrupt the proceedings.
Pence publicly revealed Tuesday that he had found classified records at his home — eight days after what he said was the Jan. 16 discovery at his Indiana residence. His attorney informed the National Archives on Jan. 18 and the FBI retrieved them Jan. 19.
Biden, by contrast, did not publicly disclose for more than two months the discovery on Nov. 2 of classified documents dating to his vice presidency at his former Penn Biden Center office in Washington. The cache was found six days before the midterm elections and reportedly included “top secret” documents dealing with Iran and Ukraine.
A timeline of how the Biden classified documents scandal unfolded
- Sept. 18, 2022 – Biden calls Trump “totally irresponsible” for storing top-secret documents at Mar-a-Lago
- Nov. 2, 2022 – Biden’s attorneys find classified documents stashed at the Penn Biden Center in Washington
- Nov. 4, 2022 — The National Archives contacts the Justice Department, saying the documents have been found and secured in an Archives facility
- Nov. 8, 2022 — Democrats perform better than expected in the midterm elections, losing a net of just nine seats in the House of Representatives and gaining a seat in the Senate
- Nov. 9, 2022 — The FBI begins an “assessment” of whether the classified material was mishandled in violation of federal law
- Nov. 14, 2022 — Garland assigns Chicago US Attorney John Lausch to lead an initial investigation to determine whether Garland should appoint a special counsel
- Nov. 18, 2022 – Garland announces special counsel in Trump case
- Dec. 20, 2022 — Biden’s personal attorney tells Lausch more classified documents have been found in the garage of Biden’s Wilmington, Del. home
- Jan. 5, 2022 — Lausch advises Garland to appoint a special counsel
- Jan. 9, 2023 – The public is first told of the mishandled Biden documents
- Jan. 10, 2023 – Biden makes first public statement about Penn documents
- Jan. 11, 2023 — Classified documents reported found at second location
- Morning of Jan. 12, 2023 — Biden attorney tells Lausch one additional classified document found at the Wilmington home
- Morning of Jan. 12, 2023 — White House, Biden confirm documents found in garage
- Afternoon of Jan. 12, 2023 – Garland appoints special counsel to investigate Biden documents
Biden kept his own discovery under wraps until Jan. 9 when CBS News broke the story.
Classified records also were found Dec. 20 inside Biden’s Wilmington, Del., garage next to his prized classic Corvette. In at least three additional searches of the home, including week by the FBI, more classified documents were found from Biden’s vice presidency and Senate years.
Although Biden in September chastised Trump as “irresponsible” for keeping classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla., which the FBI raided Aug. 8, Biden has defended his own conduct.
“My Corvette is in a locked garage, OK? So it’s not like they’re sitting out on the street,” Biden snapped at reporters this month when asked about the improper storage.
Special counsel Robert Hur is investigating whether Biden or anyone in his orbit broke the law. A different special counsel, Jack Smith, is investigating Trump’s handling of documents. It’s unclear how or whether the Justice Department will review Pence’s conduct.
Trump incongruously defended Pence this week, writing on social media, “Mike Pence is an innocent man. He never did anything knowingly dishonest in his life. Leave him alone!!!”