The US Justice Department has decided not to pursue criminal charges against former Vice-President Mike Pence regarding his handling of classified documents. US media reports indicate that an investigation has cleared Pence of any wrongdoing. This development comes just days before he is anticipated to announce his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination.
In January, Pence’s lawyers revealed that a “small number” of classified documents were discovered at his Indiana residence. From the beginning of the investigation, Pence’s team maintained that the documents had been “inadvertently” stored in boxes that were not in a secure area at his Carmel, Indiana property. In a letter to the National Archives in January, Pence’s attorney stated that neither the former vice-president nor his counsel had reviewed the contents of the boxes. Shortly thereafter, the documents were retrieved by FBI agents.
CBS, the BBC’s US partner, reported that multiple members of Pence’s staff were interviewed during the investigation, including former chief of staff Marc Short. Pence himself was also reportedly interviewed. He is expected to announce his 2024 presidential bid at an event in Des Moines, Iowa on June 7. This announcement will put Pence on a collision course with his former boss, Donald Trump. The relationship between the two has become strained over time, particularly after Pence refused to try to derail the certification of the 2020 presidential election on the day of the January 6 US Capitol riot.
Both President Joe Biden and his predecessor, Donald Trump, who are running for the White House next year, are still being investigated for possessing classified material. Earlier this year, Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed a special counsel to oversee a Justice Department investigation into the handling of hundreds of classified documents at Trump’s Florida estate. Another special counsel was also appointed to oversee a separate investigation into classified documents found at President Biden’s Delaware home and a Washington DC office.
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