Classified documents have been found at former US vice president Mike Pence’s home in Indiana, his lawyer has said.
This marks the latest discovery of secret papers found at the homes of officials who have served in the top ranks of the US government.
Investigators are also looking into the possession of files of President Joe Biden and ex-president Donald Trump. Trump faces a criminal investigation for allegedly mishandling papers.
The FBI came to the ex-vice president’s home after representatives of Pence alerted the National Archives to the documents via a letter. The Bureau bypassed standard procedures and requested direct possession of the documents, the lawyers added in a separate letter.
Pence’s lawyer, Greg Jacob, told the National Archives in a letter last week the records "appear to be a small number of documents bearing classified markings that were inadvertently boxed and transported to the personal home of the former vice president at the end of the last administration"
He said Pence "was unaware of the existence of sensitive or classified documents at his personal residence" and he "understands the high importance of protecting sensitive and classified information and stands ready and willing to cooperate fully with the National Archives and any appropriate inquiry".
Mr Jacob said Pence immediately secured the documents in a locked safe. Under the Presidential Records Act, White House documents should go to the National Archives after an administration ends and be stored securely.
Pence previously said, repeatedly, he did not believe he was in possession of any classified documents, but sought legal help "out of an abundance of caution".
He asked for help "after it became public that documents with classified markings were found in President Joe Biden’s Wilmington residence", the letter read.
Lawyers found "a small number of documents that could potentially contain sensitive or classified information", which were locked by the former vice president in a safe. According to the US media, the files are believed to have been taken to Mr Pence’s home in Virginia before being sent to Indiana.
After the letter became public, Trump came to Pence’s defence, taking to his Truth Social social media platform to say that he is "an innocent man".
"He never did anything knowingly dishonest in his life," Trump wrote. "Leave him alone!!!"
Classified documents found at Biden’s and Trump’s homes
An FBI search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home revealed around 300 documents, some labelled top secret level, were taken from the estate. Investigators are trying to ascertain if Trump or anyone should be charged with illegal possession of the records or with trying to obstruct the months-long investigation.
Classified documents were also found in president Biden’s home in Delaware, in relation to his time as the vice president.