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Secret Service investigating who smuggled cocaine into the White House

The Secret Service is investigating who smuggled a bag of cocaine discovered Sunday night into a lobby in the West Wing of the White House, an agency spokesman said Wednesday.

Spokesman Anthony Guglielmi also said the agency had confirmed the white, powdery substance found by an officer was cocaine, backing up the results of an initial test conducted by 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 take relatives or friends on West Wing tours, they usually do so at night and on weekends.

A person familiar with the investigation said the bag was found near an area where guests are checked for security and leave their phones in small lockers. The Secret Service would not say exactly where 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 the area is so often frequented by so many groups of people that it can be difficult to track down the person who left the bag.

President Biden and his family were away at Camp David on Sunday when the bag was found, and officials briefly shut down parts of the compound to assess whether the substance was dangerous. That evening, a test of the substance by officials from the hazmat crew yielded a result: “We have a yellow bar indicating cocaine hydrochloride,” an official said on a dispatch sent at 8:49 p.m. and recorded through a website that collects radio communications.

Mr. Biden returned with his family on Tuesday. He met Sweden’s prime minister in the Oval Office on Wednesday and did not answer a question a reporter shouted about the incident.

Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary, did not respond to questions about whether the White House or the Secret Service would review security protocols after the episode, and referred questions to the Secret Service .

“They are going to look into everything that happened over the weekend,” Ms. Jean-Pierre said. “I just don’t want to get ahead of that.”

She said White House tours have taken place on several days over the past week, including Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

“As for visitors to the West Wing, they come for many reasons,” said Ms. Jean-Pierre. “Obviously we have West Wing tours happening here on campus.”

Several Republicans in Congress said Wednesday that the Secret Service should release information related to the investigation, including specific details about where the cocaine was found in the West Wing.

Senator Tom Cotton, Republican of Arkansas, published a copy of a letter he emailed the agency on Wednesday, asking for more information about how visitors are screened before entering the White House, and whether there are different levels of screening.

“Congress and the American people deserve to know how cocaine got into the White House,” Cotton said.


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