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Lab test confirms white substance found at the White House is cocaine

The substance was found Sunday evening in a highly trafficked part of the West Wing.
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WASHINGTON — A formal lab test of the white substance found at the White House on Sunday has come back positive for cocaine, Secret Service spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said Wednesday.

It is unclear how long the bag was in the White House. The blurry timeline and the number of people who walk through the area where the cocaine was found could make it difficult to determine who was responsible, an official familiar with the investigation said.

The bag containing the cocaine remains in a federal laboratory, where it will be tested for DNA and fingerprints, the official said. The substance will also undergo a full chemical analysis.

The Secret Service is running the investigation, which will include consulting cameras and entrance logs, the official added. The probe could take about two weeks, and officials caution that there may not be a resolution if no forensic material is found to identify someone.

The substance was found Sunday evening in a small zippered bag in a highly trafficked part of the West Wing and prompted a brief evacuation, a Secret Service official said.

Asked about the incident Wednesday, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre emphasized that the investigation is under the Secret Service's purview and said she is "confident" they will get to the bottom of the situation.

The White House "is subject to rigorous guidelines that include drug testing, and so we will take any action that is appropriate and warranted, pending the outcome of the Secret Service," Jean-Pierre told reporters, adding that she wouldn't "get into hypotheticals."

She said President Joe Biden was briefed on the situation. He and his family were at the presidential retreat at Camp David, Maryland, not the White House, when the cocaine was discovered.

"The president thinks it's very important to get to the bottom of this," Jean-Pierre said in response to a question about how determined Biden is to uncover who brought drugs into the White House.

Jean-Pierre reiterated that the cocaine was found in a heavily traveled area that visitors often transit and noted that staff-sponsored tours were held on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

The Secret Service did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., sent a letter Wednesday asking Secret Service Director Kimberly Cheatle to release information about where the cocaine was found. He also asked half a dozen questions about access to the White House, other instances of illegal drugs' being found in the complex and security procedures, requesting answers by July 14.

"If the White House complex is not secure, Congress needs to know the details, as well as your plan to correct any security flaws," Cotton said.

Officers found the cocaine during "routine patrols," a Secret Service official said.

The substance had tested positive for cocaine on a preliminary field test, the official familiar with the investigation said Tuesday, and the formal lab test confirmed that result.