The about 12 classified documents found at former Vice President Mike Pence’s home in Indiana included documents described as background briefing notes prepared for Pence’s foreign trips, multiple sources told CNN.
A source said some of these classified documents were likely used to prepare Pence for meetings abroad while he was vice president and may have been forgotten during the packing process as they were stored in old travel binders.
According to another source, the classified briefing documents would not have been visible unless the packers went through the binders page by page.
It is not uncommon for presidents and vice presidents to receive travel briefing binders containing background notes on people they meet abroad. Sources who spoke to CNN said they sometimes include basic biographical information about foreign leaders, but sometimes also more sensitive information.
The FBI works with U.S. intelligence agencies to assess documents, a process that involves determining how recent the information is, its classification level, and the potential risks of having classified material stored in an unauthorized location. according to a US official.
A source who was briefed on some of the classified documents told CNN that, based on what they were told, there was nothing particularly unusual about the documents and described the classification marks as being at the “lower level”. There was no mention of documents bearing the SCI or SAP marks, two designations for some of the most sensitive classified documents, the source said.
Top secret, the highest level of classification, may include a subset of documents called SCI, or Sensitive Compartmented Information, which is reserved for certain information from intelligence sources. Access to an SCI document can be further restricted to a select group of people with specific security clearances.
Another category of sensitive information within the Top Secret or Secret classification is known as SAP, or Special Access Program, which requires additional safeguards. Not everyone with a Top Secret security clearance can access information from an SAP.
CNN reported earlier this month that classified documents discovered in President Joe Biden’s former private office in Washington included US intelligence memos and briefing materials from when Biden was vice president covering Ukraine, Iran and the United Kingdom.
Materials found in Biden’s former office included documents marked top secret with an SCI designation, CNN previously reported.
More than 300 classified documents were discovered at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort, both in boxes Trump’s aides turned over to the National Archives and in documents later found by the FBI. The FBI’s search in August included 18 documents marked top secret, 54 documents marked secret and 31 documents marked confidential, according to court documents.
A set of classified documents recovered by the FBI in August included SCI markings, according to the property receipt published in court records.