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Pence says he didn’t leave office with classified material

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By THOMAS BEAUMONT

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Former Vice President Mike Pence said Friday that he didn’t take any classified information with him when he left office.

The disclosure — which would typically be unremarkable for a former vice president — is notable given that FBI agents seized classified and top secret information from his former boss’s Florida estate on Aug. 8 while investigating potential violations of three different federal laws. Former President Donald Trump has claimed that the documents seized by agents were “all declassified.”

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

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 was in Iowa on Friday as part of a two day-trip to the state, which hosts the leadoff Republican presidential caucuses. It comes as the former vice president has made stops in other early voting states as he takes steps toward mounting a 2024 White House campaign.

Pence also weighed in on Republican U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney’s primary defeat earlier in the week to a rival backed by Trump. Cheney, who is arguably 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 chair of the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. 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!” “And, you know, I accept their judgment about the kind of representation they want on Capitol Hill.”

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

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