WASHINGTON – The discovery of classified documents at former Vice President Mike Pence's home has lawmakers asking questions about the executive branch's ability to properly protect the nation's secrets.
"I kind of thought, holy heck," Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) told reporters. "And I do wonder how many other formers…"
"Obviously there's a systemic problem in the executive branch," said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL). "Clearly there is a process involved here that's not working."
This all comes after attorneys for Pence announced they turned over what they call "a small number" of documents with classified markings at Pence's Indiana home.
However, last fall, he told the media he didn't have any.
"Let me ask you, as we sit here in your home office in Indiana, did you take any classified documents with you from the White House?" asked ABC's David Muir.
"I - I - I did not," replied Pence.
Pence's lawyers insist he was not aware of these documents and say once they were found he immediately secured them in a locked safe and contacted the National Archives. Three days later, FBI agents arrived at his house to collect them.
Pence reportedly launched the search proactively after classified documents were found at President Biden's Delaware home.
That makes two presidents and one vice president who all had classified documents at their homes. Former President Trump brought hundreds of documents to Mar a Lago, and classified material was found at Biden's Delaware home and former private office in Washington, D.C.
Inside Elections' Nathan Gonzales told CBN Faith Nation there's a difference in the way these cases were handled.
"In the case of Pence, the documents are found, Pence said take them. With Biden his lawyers found them and said here, we're going to give these back," said Gonzales. "When Trump had them, the FBI had to come get them because he didn't hand them over." The Trump team has previously disputed that statement, saying they had been working with the Justice Department on the matter.
Both Biden and Trump face special counsel investigations. Biden's classified documents were found in multiple locations and came from his time as vice president and as a senator, while Trump's came from his time a president.
The Department of Justice is still reviewing the Pence case. Those documents mostly came from his official residence at the Naval Observatory where packing was handled by military aids. Other material reportedly came from a West Wing office drawer.
As for previous administrations, former Vice President Dick Cheney and former Presidents George W. Bush, Obama, and Clinton, all say they appropriately handled classified materials.