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Who left cocaine in the West Wing? The Secret Service says they may never know

The West Wing of the White House on July 5. The U.S. Secret Service has closed its investigation into a small bag of cocaine found just inside a different entrance to the building.
Susan Walsh
The West Wing of the White House on July 5. The U.S. Secret Service has closed its investigation into a small bag of cocaine found just inside a different entrance to the building.

Updated July 13, 2023 at 1:59 PM ET

The U.S. Secret Service has stopped looking for the owner of a dime bag of cocaine left behind in the White House over the July 4th weekend, closing its investigation because of a lack of physical evidence.

The cocaine was found on July 2 in a vestibule off the lobby of a lower-level West Wing entrance, stashed in a cubbyhole near the Situation Room, where officials store cellphones during meetings.

President Biden and his family were away at Camp David at the time. The West Wing is often frequented by visitors on staff-led tours on evenings and weekends. The Situation Room itself is being renovated, and has not being used for months.

The FBI tested the bag for fingerprints and DNA. There wasn't enough of either on the bag to draw any conclusions, the Secret Service said in a statement.

Agents had gathered the names of several hundred people who may have passed by that area. But there was no surveillance video footage that provided leads.

"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 Secret Service said.

Republicans in the House of Representatives have been critical about the incident, and summoned agency leaders for a classified briefing on Thursday.

"The White House is supposed to be the most secure residence in the world, but today Secret Service officials failed to answer basic questions or provide any meaningful information related to security failures and cocaine being found at the White House," said House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer, R-Ky.

"The Secret Service must reassess their security operations to prevent illegal substances from entering the White House," Comer said in a statement.

NPR's Deirdre Walsh contributed to this report.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Tamara Keith has been a White House correspondent for NPR since 2014 and co-hosts the NPR Politics Podcast, the top political news podcast in America. Keith has chronicled the Trump administration from day one, putting this unorthodox presidency in context for NPR listeners, from early morning tweets to executive orders and investigations. She covered the final two years of the Obama presidency, and during the 2016 presidential campaign she was assigned to cover Hillary Clinton. In 2018, Keith was elected to serve on the board of the White House Correspondents' Association.

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