Cocaine found in West Wing of White House while President Biden was away: What we know

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WASHINGTON − The White House was temporarily closed Sunday evening after Secret Service agents discovered a white powder suspected to be cocaine inside a work area in the West Wing.

The Secret Service said in a statement that the White House was closed to allow members of law enforcement to investigate and that the District of Columbia fire department helped evaluate the substance.

The fire department "quickly determined the item to be non-hazardous" after an initial evaluation, a spokesperson for the Secret Service said.

A fire department and emergency medical services field test Sunday evening identified a "yellow bar, meaning cocaine, hydrochloride" after a dispatch at 8:49 p.m., according to a publicly available recording of the encrypted call.

The South Lawn of the White House is seen from the top of the Washington Monument.
The South Lawn of the White House is seen from the top of the Washington Monument.

Earlier in the evening, District of Columbia Fire and EMS crews were sent to 17th Street, which borders the White House. Neither call, however, mentioned the White House.

Members of the public who tour the White House usually are allowed to visit only the East Wing and residence. Tour members are typically not permitted to visit the West Wing, which is where the president, vice president, and other senior administration officials have their offices.

The substance will be tested further, according to the Secret Service.

"The item was sent for further evaluation and an investigation into the cause and manner of how it entered the White House is pending," Anthony Guglielmi, chief of communications for the Secret Service, said in a statement.

President Joe Biden and his family were away from the White House when the substance was discovered. Biden departed for Camp David on Friday evening and did not return to the White House until Tuesday morning.

Guglielmi said in the statement that the White House complex "went into a precautionary closure" as officers investigated the substance.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Powder found in White House West Wing was cocaine, sources say