Classified records pose conundrum stretching back to Carter
WASHINGTON At least three presidents. A vice president, a secretary of state, an attorney general. The mishandling of classified documents is not a problem unique to President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump.
The matter of classified records and who, exactly, has hung onto them got more complicated Tuesday as news surfaced that former Vice President Mike Pence also had such records in his possession after he left office. Like Biden, Pence willingly turned them over to authorities after they were discovered during a search he requested, according to his lawyer and aides.
The revelations have thrust the issue of proper handling of documents an otherwise low-key Washington process into the middle of political discourse and laid bare an uncomfortable truth: Policies meant to control the handling of the nation's secrets are haphazardly enforced among top officials and rely almost wholly on good faith.
Its been a problem off and on for decades, from presidents to Cabinet members and staff across multiple administrations stretching as far back as Jimmy Carter. The issue has taken on greater significance since Trump willfully retained classified material at his Florida estate, prompting the unprecedented FBI seizure of thousands of pages of records last year.
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