DoJ Declines to Prosecute Mike Pence for Classified Docs – The Justice Department will not prosecute former Vice President Mike Pence for having kept classified documents in his possession after leaving office.
The announcement comes as the former vice president stands ready to challenge his former boss, former President Donald Trump, for his old job.
“The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department’s National Security Division have conducted an investigation into the potential mishandling of classified information,” the Justice Department wrote to Pence’s attorney according to CNN. “Based on the results of that investigation, no criminal charges will be sought.”
Pence’s advisers believe that his handling of the classified documents stood in contrast to Trump’s because he contacted the National Archives as soon as they were discovered, and they were returned to the FBI.
Similarly, it was disclosed earlier this year that President Joe Biden kept numerous classified documents dating from his vice presidency at several locations. Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed Special Counsel Robert Hur to look into the documents kept by the former vice president after he left office and before he became president.
“Just announced that they are not going to bring charges against Mike Pence on the document hoax,” Trump wrote on Truth Social on Friday. “That’s great, but when am I going to be fully exonerated, I’m at least as innocent as he is … When will the witch hunt against ‘TRUMP’ stop?”
Trump Lawyers Met With Justice Department Amid Indictment Rumors
Trump’s lawyers sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland last week requesting a meeting amid rumors that an indictment of the former president could be imminent.
Justice Department prosecutors issued a subpoena for a document that Trump was heard on audio talking about, suggesting that Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley had a plan for invading Iran. Trump’s attorneys denied having been able to locate the document and suggested that prosecutors find it themselves.
The FBI found over 100 documents at Mar-a-Lago in the wake of its search and seizure at Mar-a-Lago last August.
Trump’s former Attorney General Bill Barr stated last month that the classified documents case is the one prosecution that could most seriously jeopardize him of all of the pending prosecutions against him.
Donald Trump, Supporters Claim He Declassified Documents
Trump and his supporters have distinguished the president’s possession of the documents from those of Biden based on their belief that the president of the United States does not need to follow procedures to declassify documents. Vice presidents, they note, do not have that ability.
“The next question is, did Mr. Trump in fact declassify these documents? If he claims he did, it will be up to the government to challenge that assertion. It could do so in several ways. It could offer evidence designed to disprove Mr. Trump’s claim. But proving a negative — in this case, that he did not declassify the documents — is always difficult,” former Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz and Trump attorney John Coale wrote in a Washington Times opinion piece shared on Truth Social by the former president. “Theoretically, there could be evidence that Mr. Trump told an associate that he was taking classified material with him, knowing it was still classified. It is extremely unlikely, however, that any such evidence exists.”
They continued: “Based on what we know, we believe that there is no legitimate basis for a criminal indictment of Mr. Trump based on the material that was found at Mar-a-Lago.”
Former Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Tribe and former federal prosecutor Dennis Aftergut disagreed, saying that Trump knew the proper way to declassify documents and his comments during the CNN Town Hall undercut his position.
“Trump knowingly and intentionally initiated the removal in DC, with the full intent to keep the documents once power passed and he no longer had any right to possess them,” Tribe and Aftergut wrote in Just Security.
The Trump case could provoke constitutional questions that could find their way all of the way to the U.S. Supreme Court because the ability to declassify documents is one that impacts the current incumbent and all of their successors.
John Rossomando was a senior analyst for Defense Policy and served as Senior Analyst for Counterterrorism at The Investigative Project on Terrorism for eight years. His work has been featured in numerous publications such as The American Thinker, The National Interest, National Review Online, Daily Wire, Red Alert Politics, CNSNews.com, The Daily Caller, Human Events, Newsmax, The American Spectator, TownHall.com, and Crisis Magazine. He also served as senior managing editor of The Bulletin, a 100,000-circulation daily newspaper in Philadelphia, and received the Pennsylvania Associated Press Managing Editors first-place award for his reporting.