Former Vice President Mike Pence, who is believed to be on the verge of announcing his candidacy for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, may have to reconsider those plans in light of recent troubling developments.
A team of FBI agents conducted a search of Pence's Indiana home on Friday and reportedly took possession of at least one document with classified markings, according to The Daily Beast.
The FBI also took possession of at least six other pages that were not marked as classified in what was reported to be a consensual and voluntary search that stemmed from the announced discovery last month that attorneys for Pence had found a "small number" of classified documents in the former vice president's Indiana home.
NBC News reported that an adviser for former VP Pence, Devin O'Malley, said in a statement that "the Department of Justice completed a thorough and unrestricted search of five hours and removed one document with classified markings and six additional pages without such markings that were not discovered in the initial review by the vice president’s counsel."
"The vice president has directed his legal team to continue its cooperation with appropriate authorities and to be fully transparent through the conclusion of this matter," the adviser continued, and added that both Pence and his personal attorneys had "agreed to a consensual search of his residence that took place today."
Neither Pence nor his wife Karen was at their home in Indiana during the FBI's search of the premises, but a member of Pence's legal team was on hand while the search was conducted.
That search, which was not authorized by a warrant, had been arranged through consensual negotiations to set "ground rules" and "stipulations" to outline the limited scope of the sweep, which according to NBC News was focused on finding "documents that DOJ believed might be considered original documents that should have been sent to the National Archives."
Meanwhile, just one day prior to that FBI search of former Vice President Pence's home in Indiana, ABC News reported that Pence was served with a subpoena for documents and testimony by Special Counsel Jack Smith.
Special Counsel Smith had been appointed in November by Attorney General Merrick Garland to take over two separate investigations of former President Donald Trump -- the first involving Trump's alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 election and alleged role in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot of 2021, and the second involving Trump's alleged unauthorized retention of classified documents and other presidential records.
Per ABC's unnamed sources, the subpoena issued by Smith is in relation to requested documents and testimony with regard to the first investigation concerning the 2020 election and Capitol riot, and was only issued after "months of negotiations between federal prosecutors and Pence's legal team" to obtain such had proven unsuccessful.
The outlet noted that the subpoena served upon Pence indicates a "major escalation of Smith's probe," but also pointed out that the subpoena could lead to a "potentially lengthy and contentious legal battle" if Pence attempts to assert executive privilege as a defense against Smith's demands.
According to Yahoo News, the special counsel's subpoena of Pence -- to say nothing of the FBI's search for classified documents -- will "likely complicate" the former vice president's anticipated plans to mount a campaign for the presidency.
To be sure, Pence's apparent path to the GOP nomination in 2024 was already a narrow one, as polling consistently shows him in a distant third place behind frontrunners Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, both of whom would likely need to badly falter or not even enter the race in order to make way for Pence to move to the front of the pack.
Pence now finds himself in a bit of a predicament, in that he must choose whether to continue to maintain his straight-laced persona by cooperating with arguably partisan investigations or fight back legally in a manner that risks erasing all of the distance he has placed between himself and Trump over the past two years.