Pence documents discovery sparks scrutiny on US classification system – live | US politics

It started in August when the FBI carried out an unprecedented search of Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort and carted away boxes of what the government revealed were secret materials he should not have left the White House with.It appeared the former president was in serious legal peril, particularly once it emerged that he’d sidestepped efforts by the National Archives to retrieve the materials, and after attorney general Merrick Garland said special counsel Jack Smith would look into the matter.But then, in January, it was revealed Joe Biden had found classified documents from his time as vice president at a former office in Washington DC, and later at his home in Delaware. When it was revealed that the White House discovered this just prior to the November midterm elections but didn’t make the news public, Republicans pounced. Earlier this month, Garland announced the appointment of another special counsel, Robert Hur, to handle the investigation into the Biden case.Then yesterday, news broke that the former vice president under Trump, Mike Pence, also found classified materials in his home in Indiana. That discovery has prompted something of a tonal shift in Washington, with both Democratic and Republican politicians now wondering if there isn’t a larger issue to be addressed with the government’s classification process – or perhaps its procedures for presidential transitions.Key eventsShow key events onlyPlease turn on JavaScript to use this featureAs this Associated Press article points out, Donald Trump, Joe Biden and Mike Pence are far from the first high-level government officials to be found to have classified documents in their possession.Former president Jimmy Carter discovered some in his Georgia home:Former President Jimmy Carter found classified materials at his home in Plains, Georgia, on at least one occasion and returned them to the National Archives, according to the same person who spoke of regular occurrences of mishandled documents. The person did not provide details on the timing of the discovery.
An aide to the Carter Center provided no details when asked about that account of Carter discovering documents at his home after leaving office in 1981. It’s notable that Carter signed the Presidential Records Act in 1978 but it did not apply to records of his administration, taking effect years later when Ronald Reagan was inaugurated. Before Reagan, presidential records were generally considered the private property of the president individually. Nonetheless, Carter invited federal archivists to assist his White House in organizing his records in preparation for their eventual repository at his presidential library in Georgia.And the story reminds readers the Hillary Clinton was the subject of a lengthy investigation over whether she’d broken classification procedures by using a private server to handle her emails as secretary of state, and that Alberto Gonzales also used to take secret documents homes when he was attorney general. It also includes more details of which classified files may have found their way to Mike Pence’s home in Indiana:In Pence’s case, the material found in the boxes came mostly from his official residence at the Naval Observatory, where packing was handled by military aides rather than staff lawyers. Other material came from a West Wing office drawer, according to a Pence aide who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the discovery. The boxes were taped shut and were not believed to have been opened since they were packed, the person said.The Guardian’s Hugo Lowell has some new details into the justice department’s investigation of classified documents found at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort:Two documents that Donald Trump’s legal team returned to the justice department last year after retrieving them from a private storage unit in Florida as part of an additional search for materials were marked classified at the secret level, according to sources familiar with the matter.The materials included one document marked as secret on the cover page, and a second document marked as secret with its classified attachment removed, one of the sources said – which Trump’s lawyers told the department was an indication of that document no longer being classified.The two documents were found inside sealed boxes that appeared to have been unopened from when they were shipped down to the storage unit in Florida, near Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort, from the White House at the end of the Trump administration, the lawyers also told the justice department.Since the two documents were returned as soon as the lawyers were informed of the discovery, the department is not expected to include them as part of the wider criminal investigation into Trump’s retention of national security information and obstruction of justice.It started in August when the FBI carried out an unprecedented search of Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort and carted away boxes of what the government revealed were secret materials he should not have left the White House with.It appeared the former president was in serious legal peril, particularly once it emerged that he’d sidestepped efforts by the National Archives to retrieve the materials, and after attorney general Merrick Garland said special counsel Jack Smith would look into the matter.But then, in January, it was revealed Joe Biden had found classified documents from his time as vice president at a former office in Washington DC, and later at his home in Delaware. When it was revealed that the White House discovered this just prior to the November midterm elections but didn’t make the news public, Republicans pounced. Earlier this month, Garland announced the appointment of another special counsel, Robert Hur, to handle the investigation into the Biden case.Then yesterday, news broke that the former vice president under Trump, Mike Pence, also found classified materials in his home in Indiana. That discovery has prompted something of a tonal shift in Washington, with both Democratic and Republican politicians now wondering if there isn’t a larger issue to be addressed with the government’s classification process – or perhaps its procedures for presidential transitions.Latest secret document discovery amps up scrutiny of US classification systemGood morning, US politics blog readers. If you worked in the White House, it is apparently hard to leave without taking classified documents with you. That’s the lesson a number of lawmakers are drawing from yesterday’s news that former vice-president Mike Pence found government secrets at his home in Indiana. He is now in the same club as Joe Biden and Donald Trump, both of whom were found to have the same sort of material in their personal possession. For Trump and Biden, the matter is seen as a potentially serious legal threat, but the discovery at Pence’s residence has been met with incredulity by congressional lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, several of whom are now asking if the discoveries may not be a sign that it’s time to take a look at how the government manages its secrets.Here’s what else is happening today:
Vice-president Kamala Harris will be in the Capitol to address the House Democratic caucus, and later in the day travel to Monterey Park, California to meet with families of victims of the mass shooting that occurred there.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre will brief reporters at 1.30pm eastern time.
A group of conservative Republican senators will talk to the press about their plans for raising the debt ceiling in the Capitol at 2pm.