President Donald Trump says the Daily Beast report that Vice President Mike Pence’s office turned over to the government a trove of documents related to a 2016 security clearance request that showed Pence knew it could taint him was a new low for Democrats and the media.
Trump tweeted a weekend report from the Daily Beast that quotes transition team members in December 2016 saying that Pence wanted information from his 2012 security clearance to help his 2016 campaign.
“Is this even legal? People around me are telling me this is a really bad thing,” Trump wrote.
Pence had worked at the Indiana statehouse in 2010 for six years, first as lieutenant governor and then as governor. Pence had a single background check, though the checks were done by the Republican National Committee, not the State Department.
Trump argued Saturday that the Vice President’s office turned over documents that were “doxed,” or made public, and that if the documents exist, they would destroy the administration’s ability to reform how the White House keeps its records.
“But a real investigation – and that will happen, folks – will show what exactly happened here, and only then will it become clear why so many legal experts agree that it is in the best interest of the American people to obtain all of the relevant records, about an entire administration, and to make sure the next Vice President does not find himself in the same situation!” Trump wrote.
The Daily Beast report said the documents show that Pence was aware of the sensitivity of his 2012 background check report, including that he worked as the head of a federal nonprofit and was also employed by the state of Indiana.
Trump has long alleged that the security clearances of several current and former officials were part of a political scam to embarrass him.
Trump said last year, for example, that then-director of national intelligence James Clapper, former FBI director James Comey and Andrew McCabe “know all about it.”
A former White House staffer raised questions about Comey’s security clearance in a 2017 CBS News interview. It turned out those questions had been about a clearance request he’d made for the security clearance of his wife in 2006. The aide did not raise questions about Trump’s security clearance.
“This whole thing has taken a downward spiral,” Trump said of his presidential opponents, “and the blame lies squarely with them.”
A spokesman for Pence’s office said that “being a one-term governor for nearly 16 years, it has been obvious to people for years that Mr. Pence had not recently worked for the State of Indiana and had not held federal or national security clearances.”
The office added that: “However, more importantly, Mike Pence is looking forward to being President of the United States on Jan. 20, 2017, as Governor Mike Pence has held that office since January 3, 2015.”
Trump has said the FBI has “gone rogue” and waged a “witch hunt.”
The Trump Foundation was suspended from doing business in 2017 after it was revealed the charity had allegedly engaged in illegal activities, including accepting a $158,000 check from a self-described foreign agent in Russia.
And in May, Mueller charged 12 Russian intelligence officers with hacking Democrats’ emails during the 2016 presidential campaign and then releasing the data on social media, with an explicit goal of influencing the outcome of the election.