Secret Service closes White House cocaine investigation without suspect
Washington — The U.S. Secret Service has closed its investigation into the bag of cocaine that was discovered at the White House earlier this month, but was unable to identify a suspect "due to a lack of physical evidence," the agency said Thursday.
In a statement describing the events surrounding the cocaine's discovery, which began July 2, the Secret Service said as part of its review, it compiled a list of "several hundred" people who may have accessed the area where the substance was discovered. But no fingerprints could be found on the cocaine's packaging and there was "insufficient DNA" for "investigative comparisons," the Secret Service said.
The agency said there was no surveillance footage found that provided investigative leads or other ways for investigators to identify who the cocaine belonged to.
"Without physical evidence, the investigation will not be able to single out a person of interest from the hundreds of individuals who passed through the vestibule where the cocaine was discovered," the agency said. "At this time, the Secret Service's investigation is closed due to a lack of physical evidence."
The saga over the cocaine began just before the Fourth of July, when the White House was temporarily closed after an "unknown item" was discovered by Secret Service officers on July 2. A preliminary test conducted by the District of Columbia Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department soon after the substance was found indicated it was cocaine. Subsequent testing confirmed the finding.
The cocaine, contained in a small Ziploc bag, was found in a cubby used by visitors to store cellphones and other personal items before entering the West Wing. The Secret Service described the location of the substance as "inside a vestibule leading to the lobby area of the West Executive Avenue entrance to the White House."
President Biden and first lady Dr. Jill Biden were not at the White House when the cocaine was found, as they spent the weekend at Camp David before returning for Fourth of July festivities.
Still, its discovery set off rounds of questions for the White House, including about its security protocols and who had access to the area where the substance was found. White House press secretary Karine-Jean Pierre said the space is "heavily traveled" by staff and visitors, including those taking tours.
The president was briefed on the incident, and the discovery of the cocaine prompted questions from Republicans in the House. Oversight Committee chairman James Comer said last week his panel will assess the White House's security practices, and the Secret Service on Thursday provided a closed-door briefing for the committee.
Lawmakers who attended the briefing confirmed that the Secret Service's investigation will conclude with no determination of who the cocaine belonged to, leaving Republicans exasperated and with more questions.
"It's deeply frustrating," Rep. Nancy Mace, a South Carolina Republican, told reporters. "This is one of the most secure locations in the world, some of the best law enforcement officers in the world. And they don't have any answers."
Mace said "no one will know who did it or how."
GOP Rep. Tim Burchett of Tennessee said it's a "complete failure" and a "clown show."
The Secret Service led the investigation into how the cocaine ended up at the White House and said as part of its review, it would look over surveillance footage and entrance logs to determine who had access to the area where it was found.
Nicole Sganga and Ellis Kim contributed to this report