DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Former Vice President Mike Pence said Friday that he did not take any confidential information with him when he left office.
The disclosure — which normally wouldn’t be noteworthy for a former vice president — is notable, given that FBI agents seized top-secret, confidential information from their former boss’s Florida estate on Aug. possible violations of three different federal laws. Former President Donald Trump said the documents seized by the agents were “all declassified”.
Pence, asked directly if he had withheld any confidential information upon leaving office, told the Associated Press in an interview: “No, not that I’m aware of.”
Despite the inclusion of material marked “top secret” on the government’s list of items recovered from Mar-a-Lago, Pence said, “I honestly don’t want to prejudge you before we know all the facts.”
Related Video: Pence defends law enforcement amid search backlash in Mar-a-Lago
Pence was in Iowa on Friday as part of a two-day trip to the state, which is home to the first Republican presidential caucuses. This comes as the former vice president makes stops in other states with early voting as he takes steps to mount a campaign for the White House in 2024.
Pence also weighed in on Republican Representative Liz Cheney’s loss in the primaries earlier in the week to a Trump-backed rival. Cheney, who is arguably Trump’s most prominent Republican critic, called the former president “a very grave threat and risk to our republic” and further escalated his ire for his role as vice chairman of the House committee investigating the issue. case of January 6, 2021. insurrection in the United States Capitol.
“My reaction was that the people of Wyoming spoke up,” said Pence, who was targeted by angry protesters on the Capitol that day, including some who chanted, “Hang Mike Pence!” “And, you know, I accept their judgment on the kind of representation they want on Capitol Hill.”
Pence said he has “great respect” for Cheney’s father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, who served two terms under President George W. Bush.
“And I appreciate the conservative stance that Congresswoman Cheney has taken over the years,” Pence continued. “But I was disappointed by the partisan taint of the January 6 committee from the start.”
Pence’s aides said the committee contacted his legal team months ago to see if he would be willing to testify. While Pence said he would give “due consideration” to cooperation, he was adamant that the historic nature of such participation must be guaranteed and agreed upon.
“In addition to my concerns about the partisan nature of the January 6 committee, there are deep constitutional issues that need to be considered,” he said. “No vice president has ever been summoned to testify before the United States Congress.”
Speaking about the Mar-a-Lago search, the former vice president raised the possibility, as he had done before, that the investigation was politically motivated and asked Attorney General Merrick Garland to release more details about what prompted the authorities to carry out the search. .
“The concern that millions of Americans have felt will only be resolved in the light of day,” Pence said on Friday. “I know this is not customary in an investigation. But this is an unprecedented action by the Department of Justice and I think it deserves unprecedented transparency.”
The January 6 uprising marked the first in a series of public ruptures between Trump and his once devotee No. 2. But Pence was careful not to alienate Republicans who supported Trump but may be looking for another candidate in the 2024 election. Despite his reluctance to criticize the former president, Pence has occasionally spoken out against Trump, criticizing the attack on the US Capitol and, more recently, urging his fellow Republicans to stop attacking the FBI over the Mar-a-Lago search.
“The Republican Party is the party of law and order,” Pence said Wednesday at a political breakfast in New Hampshire. “Our party stands with the men and women who are on the fine blue line at the federal, state and local levels, and these attacks on the FBI must stop.”
Pence said on Friday he would make a decision early next year on whether to run for the White House, a move his aides said is independent of what Trump decides to do.
Having visited the Iowa State Fair on Friday afternoon, Pence also spearheaded an earlier in the day fundraiser for Republican Senator Chuck Grassley and was scheduled to speak with a conservative Christian group and a GOP fundraiser. Iowa County before leaving on Saturday.