Mike Pence says he wasn’t aware of ‘any broad-based effort’ by Trump to declassify docs

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Former Vice President Mike Pence, a Republican presidential candidate, said Sunday he did not know of any “broad-based effort” by former President Donald Trump to declassify documents before he left the White House.

“There is a process that the White House goes through to declassify materials, I’m aware of that occurring on several cases over the course of our four years,” Pence said in an interview on ABC News’ “This Week.”

“But I don’t have any knowledge of any broad-based directive from the president,” he added. “But that doesn’t mean it didn’t occur, I just — it’s just not something that I ever heard about.”

Pence comments came after he was asked by ABC News’ Jonathan Karl about the network’s report that former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told special counsel Jack Smith’s investigators that he could not recall Trump ever ordering declassifying broad sets of materials before the end of his presidency. NBC News has not independently verified ABC News’ reporting, which cites sources familiar with the matter.

Counsel for Meadows did not immediately respond to a request by NBC News for comment on ABC News’ report. Meadow’s attorney declined to comment to ABC News, and the special counsel’s office declined to comment to both NBC News and ABC News.

In a statement to NBC News, a Trump campaign spokesperson, without evidence, accused the Justice Department of “selectively leaking incomplete information because they know they can’t win inside a courtroom,” and alleged that they’re “trying to deceive Americans through the court of public opinion.”

In June Trump was indicted in connection with his mishandling of more than 100 classified documents that were discovered last year at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, including holding on to sensitive materials that he knew were classified after he left the White House.

The indictment alleged that documents were stored at times in different parts of the resort, including a ballroom stage and a bathroom.

Trump has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The special counsel filed a new indictment in connection with the case last month that alleges Trump was part of a scheme to delete security video and that a newly charged defendant — who was identified as a property manager at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence — told another employee that “the boss” wanted the server deleted.

Earlier this year, Pence’s lawyers said that a “small number” of classified materials had been found at the former vice president’s home in Indiana, after classified records were also found at a Washington think tank President Joe Biden used after he was vice president. Special counsel Robert Hur is looking into the Biden documents.

The FBI later conducted a five-hour voluntary search of Pence’s home, and uncovered another classified document. 

In June, the Justice Department’s national security division informed Pence’s attorney that it had closed its investigation and that based on the “results” of that probe, no charges would be filed against the former vice president. Pence was interviewed as part of the DOJ’s investigation, along with several aides, a source familiar with the matter told NBC News at the time.

Pence has become a target of Trump since breaking with him in the days leading up to the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack.

Since he launched his presidential campaign in June, the former vice president has also excoriated his old boss’ baseless claims of widespread election fraud in the 2020 election and his actions leading up to the Capitol attack.

Pence announced this month that he had qualified for the first GOP debate in Milwaukee on Wednesday. Meanwhile, two sources familiar with Trump’s thinking told NBC News last week that the former president has made up his mind not to attend the debate and is seeking a sit-down interview with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson as a means of counter-programming the event.

On Sunday, Pence indicated that he thinks he still might have a chance to go head-to-head against Trump in Wisconsin. “I served alongside the president for a long time. And one thing I realized about him, it’s not over till it’s over,” he said.

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