MIAMI (AP) — Former Vice President Mike Pence said Friday that he takes “full responsibility” after classified documents were found at his Indiana home.
In his first public comments since the discovery, Pence said he hadn’t been aware that the documents were in his residence but acknowledged his lack of awareness wasn’t an excuse.
“Let me be clear: Those classified documents should not have been in my personal residence,” Pence said at Florida International University, where he was talking about the economy and promoting his new book, “So Help Me God.” “Mistakes were made, and I take full responsibility.”
The discovery made public by Pence’s team earlier this week marked the latest in a string of recoveries of sensitive papers from the homes of current and former top U.S. officials. The Department of Justice was already investigating the discovery of classified documents in former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort and at President Joe Biden’s home in Delaware and his former Washington office.
Pence’s public acceptance of responsibility over his handling of the documents marks a departure from the reactions of both Trump, his former boss, and Biden in their own cases. Trump denounced the search of Mar-a-Lago as “one of the most shocking abuses of power by any administration in American history” and suggested without evidence that investigators may have planted the documents. Biden has said he was surprised to learn the documents had been found but had “no regrets” about how the public was informed.
The discovery of documents at Pence’s home came five months after he told The Associated Press that he did not take classified records with him when he left the vice presidency. “No, not to my knowledge,” he said when asked if he had retained any such information.
The comment — which would typically be unremarkable for a former vice president — was notable at the time given that FBI agents had seized classified and top secret information from Trump’s Florida estate on Aug. 8 while investigating potential violations of three different federal laws. Trump claimed that the documents seized by agents were “all declassified.”
Pence said he decided to undertake the search of his home “out of an abundance of caution” after recent disclosures by Biden’s team that documents were found at his former office and in his Delaware home.
He said he had directed his counsel to work with the National Archives, Department of Justice and Congress and fully cooperate in any investigation.
The former vice president said national security depends on the proper handling of classified documents, but he hopes that people realize that he acted swiftly to correct the error.
“We acted above politics and put national interests first,” he said.
Pence, who remains estranged from Trump after the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, is considering a 2024 White House challenge to his former boss, who announced his campaign in November. Biden has said he intends to seek reelection in 2024, though he has yet to officially kick off his campaign.
Referring to a possible White House bid, Pence said he has been reflecting on the challenges the nation has. He said many accomplishments have been “dismantled” by the Biden administration, highlighting problems with immigration and the economy.
“We are giving powerful considerations on what might be next for us,” he said. “I am going to continue to travel all across this country. I am going to continue to listen and to reflect.”
President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. Approves California Disaster Declaration
Today, President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. declared that a major disaster exists in the State of California and ordered Federal assistance to supplement state, tribal, and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by a severe storm and flooding from January 21 to January 23, 2024.
The President’s action makes Federal funding available to affected individuals in San Diego County.
Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster.
Federal funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.
Ms. N. Allison Pfaendler of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has been appointed to coordinate Federal recovery operations in the affected areas.
Additional designations may be made at a later date if requested by the state and warranted by the results of further damage assessments.
Residents and business owners who sustained losses in the designated areas can begin applying for assistance at www.DisasterAssistance.gov, by calling 800-621-FEMA (3362), or by using the FEMA App. Anyone using a relay service, such as video relay service (VRS), captioned telephone service or others, can give FEMA the number for that service.
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Biden’s National Economic Advisor Lael Brainard on Today’s CHIPS & Science Act
President Biden signed the CHIPS & Science Act to restore America’s leadership in semiconductor manufacturing and ensure America’s consumers, businesses, and military maintain reliable access to the chips that underpin nearly every aspect of our economy. We all experienced the impacts of global supply chain stress and semiconductor shortages during the pandemic, and the CHIPS and Science Act provides critical investments to build a robust, resilient American supply chain of semiconductors that power everything from home goods to electric vehicles to satellites. Already as a result of President Biden’s policies and actions in partnership with the private sector, supply chain stress has fallen from near record highs to record lows, and inflation has closely followed.
Today, the Department of Commerce announced the second preliminary memorandum of terms (PMT) for approximately $162 million dollars to be awarded to Microchip Technology. The chips and microcontroller units (MCUs) that Microchip fabricates are essential components in a wide range of consumer and defense products that are critical to American manufacturing, including electric which is only a fraction of the additional private investment that Microchip is making in these projects supply chain that impacts millions of American consumers and businesses.
As the Department of Commerce continues to make award announcements in the coming months, President Biden’s Investing in America agenda will continue to demonstrate how it is delivering for hardworking Americans, creating good jobs, strengthening American supply chains, and protecting our national security.
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