WASHINGTON — The Secret Service is investigating a “small amount” of a “white, powdery substance” discovered in a work area in the West Wing on Sunday, a Secret Service official said.
The substance — which tested positive for cocaine on a preliminary field test, according to a source familiar with the investigation — led to a brief evacuation inside the White House on Sunday night. The source added the substance was found in a small, dime-sized bag.
The Secret Service is testing the substance, which they determined was "non-hazardous," and said in a statement they are investigating the matter.
"On Sunday evening, the White House complex went into a precautionary closure as officers from the Secret Service Uniformed Division investigated an unknown item found inside a work area," Anthony Guglielmi, a spokesman for the Secret Service, said. "The DC Fire Department was called to evaluate and quickly determined the item to be non-hazardous. The item was sent for further evaluation and an investigation into the cause and manner of how it entered the White House is pending."
President Joe Biden was not at the White House at the time the substance was discovered; he left for Camp David on Friday, returning to Washington on Tuesday morning.
A source familiar with the investigation said that the Secret Service will lead a full review, which will include consulting cameras and entrance logs to determine who had access to the space where the small plastic bag was found Sunday night.
While the investigation will try to determine who is responsible for the item, the source acknowledged that could be difficult given the number of people who transit the location and said it is unknown how long the bag had been there. The substance was found in a common space where employees and visitors can store phones and personal items that are not taken into other parts of the West Wing.
The source added that no surprises about what the substance is are expected after the field test result indicated cocaine but that proper lab testing is being done for a formal conclusion.
The White House declined to comment.