Mike Pence also apparently self-reported the discovery of classified documents at his home in Carmel, Indiana. Whether the FBI has searched all of that property—which includes a 10,000-square-foot main house, four separate garages, and several other buildings scattered over five acres—isn’t clear. But Pence does seem to be cooperating.
“Seem” may be the operative word here. Because unlike the situation with President Biden, where Attorney General Merrick Garland stepped in to seek a special counsel as soon as he learned about the documents found by Biden’s attorneys, there has been no reported move to name a special counsel for Pence.
Here’s what some FBI sources had to tell CNN when discussing Pence.
While Pence’s vice presidential office in general did a rigorous job while he was leaving office of sorting through and turning over any classified material and unclassified material covered by the Presidential Records Act, these classified documents appear to have inadvertently slipped through the process because most of the materials were packed up separately from the vice president’s residence, along with Pence’s personal papers, the sources told CNN.
Pence did “a rigorous job” of sorting documents, and those found at his own home “inadvertently slipped through the process.” CNN also notes that Pence has an office in Washington, D.C., that “was also searched” with no classified records being found.
What’s remarkable about the FBI search of Pence’s home and office? There hasn’t been one. From all reports, both these searches were conducted by Pence’s attorneys. There has been no FBI visit to either location, other than to pick up documents already boxed by Pence.
Pence had already publicly stated, at least twice, that he did not have any classified documents, didn’t understand why anyone would, and would never keep such documents outside a secure area. He had them. They were unsecured. It didn’t earn him a search or a special counsel investigation.
Likewise, the only Trump properties known to have been searched are his office at Mar-a-Lago, an associated storage unit, a single area of the Bedminster golf club (unclear if this was Trump’s “villa” or his office at the club), and some portion of Trump Tower in New York (again, it’s not clear if this was Trump’s office in the building or that three-story gold-laden penthouse). There appears to have been no search of Seven Springs or the dozen or more other apartments and condos under Trump’s private control in New York City. Other than the two golf clubs, there seems to have been no effort to search any of Trump’s other business locations. And that’s in spite of the fact that Trump not only denied holding classified documents when he knew he was lying, and tried to get his attorneys to sign off on this lie, Trump then fought in court, at every step, against returning the documents.
Trump knowingly and willfully broke the law where it concerns both the handling of classified documents and the requirements of the Presidential Records Act. He has repeatedly made false statements about both the documents he held, their classification status, and the FBI search of the Mar-a-Lago office.
Even so, Garland apparently felt it necessary to appoint a special counsel to investigate the documents that Biden found and turned over voluntarily. That includes searching properties where no documents were found, without evidence that any documents were being hidden there. The FBI has searched every property that Joe Biden owns, and some that he doesn’t, in a quest to find every document. Neither Trump, nor Pence, has gotten that kind of treatment.
That’s because when the Department of Justice or FBI declares that they are doing something to maintain an image of “fairness,” what they always mean is that they will go after Democrats harder, even if that means going beyond department regulations. The same thing that had James Comey bellowing about Hillary Clinton a week before the 2016 election, and convinced Robert Mueller that he couldn’t file charges of obstruction against Trump in spite of all the evidence, brought Merrick Garland to the podium on Jan. 12 to send a hardline Republican special counsel after President Biden.
Because at the Justice Department, “fair” always means giving Republicans a helping hand.
On this episode of The Downballot, don't miss a special double-guest episode. Hear from Tiffany Muller, the president of End Citizens United, as she discusses the group's efforts to roll back the corrupting effects of the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision and their plans for campaign finance reform. Then, law professor Quinn Yeargain joins to discuss the surprising setback Gov. Kathy Hochul faced in the state capitol and what it means for the future of New York's top court.
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