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EDITORIAL: Biden owes public real answers on document scandal

It’s not normal for the FBI to search the sitting president’s vacation house.

That’s what happened Wednesday, however. It’s the latest twist in the ongoing probe into President Joe Biden’s retention of classified documents.

FBI agents spent several hours searching Mr. Biden’s residence in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. Bob Bauer, the president’s personal lawyer, said the president agreed to the search. Afterward, Mr. Bauer said, “No documents with classified markings were found.”

But even that statement came with a caveat. “Consistent with the process in Wilmington, the (Department of Justice) took for further review some materials and handwritten notes that appear to relate to his time as vice president,” Mr. Bauer said.

That sounds like a roundabout way of admitting Mr. Biden had things he wasn’t supposed to.

Every political scandal has unanswered questions. That dynamic is amplified when it involves classified materials. This unknown makes it hard to draw definitive conclusions. You can concoct scenarios where this is a big misunderstanding or where Mr. Biden deliberately held onto records for personal gain.

It’s unlikely Mr. Biden personally packed up his vice presidential office. Perhaps his staff inadvertently mixed classified material with other documents. Last week, former Vice President Mike Pence revealed he had about a dozen classified documents stored at his home. In response to the Biden situation, Mr. Pence hired lawyers to go through his personal records.

But even that explanation would still leave many questions unanswered. The president’s personal lawyers found the first set of documents at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement. Richard Sauber, special counsel to Mr. Biden, said the lawyers found them while they “were packing files housed in a locked closet to prepare to vacate office space.”

Who hires lawyers to move documents? Were they searching through them? Were they looking for something specifically? Were they reviewing documents in anticipation that congressional Republicans would take over the House and launch investigations? If Mr. Biden kept documents inadvertently, why have documents been found in different places?

Why did the public only learn this week that the FBI searched that office in mid-November? It’s unclear if they found any additional classified material. Why did the FBI wait so long to search the Rehoboth Beach residence?

Voters may never learn the contents of the documents Mr. Biden held onto. What’s apparent though is that Mr. Biden is acting like someone with something to hide.

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