House Oversight chief seeks information from Secret Service about cocaine found in White House

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The Republican-led House Oversight and Accountability Committee will assess the security practices at the White House and is seeking information from the head of the U.S. Secret Service after a small bag of cocaine was discovered near a lobby in the West Wing over the weekend.

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Rep. James Comer of Kentucky, the chairman of the Oversight panel, is sending a letter to U.S. Secret Service Director Kimberly Cheatle Friday to request more information about the incident and a staff-level briefing on the matter by July 14.

“The presence of illegal drugs in the White House is unacceptable and a shameful moment in the White House’s history,” Comer wrote to Cheatle.

The Oversight chairman said that the “alarming” incident requires the committee to examine the security practices at the White House and “determine whose failures led to an evacuation of the building and finding of the illegal substance.”

The cocaine was found on Sunday, and its discovery prompted a brief shutdown of the White House. President Biden and first lady Dr. Jill Biden were not in the building when the substance was discovered, having spent the weekend with their family at Camp David.

An initial test of the substance conducted by the District of Columbia Fire Department indicated it was cocaine, and subsequent testing confirmed the finding.

The cocaine was in a small Ziploc bag and found in a cubby used by visitors to store cellphones and other personal items in an area near the West Executive entryway on the ground floor of the West Wing. 

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters Wednesday that the area is “heavily traveled” by staff and visitors, including those taking tours. Tours took place Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Mr. Biden has been briefed on the incident, she said. The Secret Service is leading a full review of how the substance got into the White House and will look over surveillance footage and entrance logs to determine who had access to the space.

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