Secret Service Investigating Who Brought Cocaine Into the White House
The Secret Service is looking to find out who brought a baggie of cocaine that was discovered on Sunday evening into a guest lobby of the West Wing of the White House, an agency spokesman said on Wednesday.
The spokesman, Anthony Guglielmi, also said that the agency had confirmed that the white, powdery substance found by an officer was cocaine, backing up the results of an early test by the Washington fire department.
The small plastic envelope was found in an area of the West Wing that visitors and staff members often pass through during the day. When staff members want to bring relatives or friends on tours of the West Wing, they usually do so at night and on the weekends.
A person familiar with the investigation said that the baggie was found near an area where guests are screened for security and leave their phones in small cubbies. The Secret Service would not say where exactly the substance was found in the lobby or whether the agency was working with the White House to review guest logs. People familiar with the investigation say that the area is frequented so often by so many groups of people that it may be hard to find the person who left the baggie.
President Biden and his family were away at Camp David on Sunday when the baggie was found and officials briefly shut down parts of the complex to assess whether the substance was hazardous. That evening, a test of the substance by hazmat crew officials returned a result: “We have a yellow bar saying cocaine hydrochloride,” an official said on a dispatch sent at 8:49 p.m. and logged by a website that gathers radio communications.
Mr. Biden returned with his family on Tuesday. On Wednesday, he met with the Swedish prime minister in the Oval Office and did not respond to a question a reporter shouted about the incident.
Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary, did not answer questions about whether the White House or Secret Service would be revising security protocols after the episode, and referred questions to the Secret Service.
“They’re going to look into all the things of what happened over the weekend,” Ms. Jean-Pierre said. “I just don’t want to get ahead of that.”
She said that tours of the White House were conducted several days over the past week, including Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
“When it comes to visitors to the West Wing, they come for many reasons,” Ms. Jean-Pierre said. “Obviously we do have West Wing tours that occur here on campus.”
Several Republicans in Congress said Wednesday that the Secret Service should release information related to the investigation, including specific details of where in the West Wing the cocaine was found.
Senator Tom Cotton, Republican of Arkansas, published a copy of a letter he sent to the agency on Wednesday, asking for more information on how visitors are screened before they enter the White House, and whether different levels of screenings exist.
“Congress and the American people deserve to know how cocaine got into the White House,” Mr. Cotton said.
Katie Rogers is a White House correspondent, covering life in the Biden administration, Washington culture and domestic policy. She joined The Times in 2014. More about Katie Rogers
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