Suspected Cocaine Located in White House Sparks Evacuation

Sunday evening a white substance located in the White House tested positive for cocaine. The substance was found in a work area at the secure building during a routine inspection, according to the U.S. Secret Service. 

The preliminary positive test was first reported by the Washington Post, which cited law and fire enforcement sources. 

President Joe Biden and his family were away at Camp David when the substance was found. The White House complex was closed as a precaution after Secret Service officers found white powder “inside a work area” of the West Wing, said Anthony Gugielmi, Secret Service spokesperson. Guglielmi said the fire department was called quickly and found the substance “non-hazardous.” 

He didn’t confirm the preliminary test results. He said the item had been sent for more testing and that an investigation remains ongoing, including on how the substance entered the White House. 

CBS News reported a senior law enforcement source saying the substance was in a storage facility in a cupboard that White House guests and staff regularly use to store mobile phones.

Reports say two law enforcement officials and a radio dispatch recording Sunday confirmed the substance tested positive for cocaine shortly after it was located. According to the Controlled Substances Act, cocaine is a Schedule II drug with a high potential for abuse.

The West Wing is a multi-level, large part of the White House that contains the U.S. president’s offices, including the Situation Room and the United States. It also houses the White House chief of staff, the press secretary, the offices of the vice president, and hundreds of other staff who have access. 

The Bidens appeared virtually at the Orlando conference via the White House complex’s South Court Auditorium. 

President Biden condemned the use of gun violence

President Biden condemned using guns in schools and said to the attendees, “By the way, arming teachers is not the answer.”

Gun violence was the focus as the president earlier put out a statement condemning the wave of shootings that shook U.S. cities in the lead-up to the July 4th holiday.

After President Biden’s remarks to the virtual NEA crowd, he beelined to the exit with the First Lady, ignoring shouts from reporters.

The president was pressed on whether he was working on a deal with the Russians on the release of Evan Gershkovich, a Wall Street Journal journalist. 

The Kremlin expressed openness to another prisoner exchange. Reporters then continued to shout over each other as the president walked out. 

The White House released a comprehensive statement about gun violence over the weekend. 

“Over the last few days, our nation has once again endured a wave of tragic and senseless shootings in communities across America — from Philadelphia to Fort Worth, Baltimore to Lansing, Wichita to Chicago,” said a statement by Biden. “Today, Jill and grieve for those who have lost their lives, and our nation celebrates Independence Day; we pray for the day when communities will be free from gun violence.”

The president also noted how the 4th of July is the first anniversary of the shooting in Highland Park, Illinois, where an AR-15 was used. 

“In the year since, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker, Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering, legislative leaders, and numerous advocates, and gun violence survivors have fought tirelessly to turn the pain of Highland Park and other acts of gun violence into meaningful action on behalf of all Illinoisans,” said Biden.