No fingerprints, DNA sample or leads from cocaine found at the White House, the Secret Service says
Jul 13, 2023, 7:38 AM | Updated: 10:48 am
(AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)
WASHINGTON (AP) — No fingerprints or DNA turned up on the baggie of cocaine found in a lobby at the White House last week despite a sophisticated FBI crime lab analysis, and surveillance footage of the area didn’t identify a suspect, according to a summary of the Secret Service investigation obtained by The Associated Press. There are no leads on who brought the drugs into the building.
U.S. Secret Service agents found the white powder during a routine White House sweep on July 2, in a heavily trafficked West Wing lobby where staff go in and out, and tour groups gather to drop their phones and other belongings.
“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,” Secret Service officials said in the summary.
It’s most likely the bag was left behind by one of the hundreds of visitors who traveled in and out of the building over the weekend, according to a person familiar with the investigation who was not authorized to talk about an ongoing probe and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
The presence of cocaine at the White House prompted a flurry of criticism and questions from Republicans, who received a closed briefing Thursday on the results of the investigation.
“There is no equal justice,” House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said Thursday. “Anything revolving around ‘Biden, Inc.’ gets treated different than any other American and that’s got to stop.”
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said President Joe Biden believed it was “incredibly important” for the Secret Service to get to the bottom of how the drugs ended up in the White House. The Secret Service is responsible for securing the White House and led the investigation.
Biden wasn’t there at the time of the discovery. He was at Camp David with members of his family for the holiday weekend.
The complex was briefly evacuated as a precaution when the white powder was found. The fire department was called in to test the substance on the spot to determine whether it was hazardous, and the initial test came back negative for a biohazard but positive for cocaine.
The bag was sent for a secondary, more sensitive lab analysis. Homeland Security’s National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center analyzed the item for any biothreats. Tests conducted at the facility came back negative.
The cocaine and packaging underwent further forensics testing, including advanced fingerprint and DNA work at the FBI’s crime laboratory, according to the summary. The FBI also did chemical testing.
Meanwhile, Secret Service investigators put together a list of several hundred individuals who may have accessed the area where the drugs were found. Anyone who comes through the White House must give identifying information and pass through security before entering.
But the lab results didn’t turn up latent fingerprints or DNA, so agents can’t compare anything to the possible suspect pool. White House staff are fingerprinted; participants in tour groups are not.
Video of the West Executive street lobby entrance did not identify the person or provide any solid investigative leads, the Secret Service said.
The lobby is open to staff-led tours of the West Wing, which are scheduled for nonworking hours on the weekends and evenings. Those tours are invitation-only and led by White House staff for friends, family and other guests. Most staffers who work in the complex can request an evening or weekend tour slot, but there is often a long wait list. There were tours on the day, a Sunday, the drugs were found, as well as on the two preceding days.
The Situation Room, located in the West Wing, where staffers would also drop their phones before entering, has been undergoing construction work and was not in use at the time the baggie was found, national security adviser Jake Sullivan said last week.
Associated Press writer Kevin Freking contributed to this report.