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No classified material for me: Pence

Unlike his erstwhile boss Donald Trump, former US vice president Mike Pence has said he did not take any classified information with him when he left office.

Pence made the comment in Iowa a week-and-a-half after the FBI seized classified and top secret information during a search of former president Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.

Asked directly if he retained any classified information upon leaving office, Pence told The Associated Press, “No, not to my knowledge”.

The disclosure – which would typically be unremarkable for a former vice president – is notable given that FBI agents took 11 sets of classified records from his former boss’s estate on August 8 while investigating potential violations of three different federal laws.

Trump has claimed the documents seized by agents were “all declassified” and argued he would have turned them over if the Justice Department had asked.

Despite the inclusion of material marked ‘top secret’ in the government’s list of items recovered from Mar-a-Lago, Pence said, “I honestly don’t want to prejudge it before until we know all the facts”.

Pence on Friday also weighed in on Liz Cheney’s Wyoming primary defeat earlier in the week to a rival backed by Trump.

Cheney, who is Trump’s most prominent Republican critic, has called the former president “a very grave threat and risk to our republic” and further raised his ire through her role as vice chairwoman of the House committee investigating the January 6, 2021, insurrection at the US Capitol.

“My reaction was, the people of Wyoming have spoken,” said Pence, who was targeted at the Capitol that day by angry rioters, including some who chanted, “Hang Mike Pence”.

Pence said he has “great respect” for Cheney’s father, former vice president Dick Cheney, who served two terms under George W. Bush.

“And I appreciate the conservative stance Congresswoman Cheney has taken over the years,” Pence said.

“But I’ve been disappointed in the partisan taint of the January 6 committee from early on.”

Speaking further about the search of Mar-a-Lago, the former vice president raised the possibility, as he has previously, that the investigation was politically motivated.

He called on Attorney-General Merrick Garland to disclose more details on what led authorities to conduct the search.

“The concern that millions of Americans felt is only going to be resolved with daylight,” Pence said.

“I know that’s not customary in an investigation. But this is unprecedented action by the Justice Department, and it merits an unprecedented transparency.”

Days ago, while speaking at a political breakfast in New Hampshire, Pence urged his fellow Republicans to stop lashing out at rank-and-file members of the FBI over the search of Mar-a-Lago.

He has subsequently sought to tamp down threats against the FBI by ardent Trump supporters angry the former president’s home was searched.

“Our party stands with the men and women who stand on the thin blue line at the federal, state and local level, and these attacks on the FBI must stop,” Pence said.

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