Senator challenges secret service over cocaine WH – News Block

By Caden Pearson

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) pressed the US Secret Service on Wednesday for details about its ongoing investigation into the White House cocaine discovery.

The Secret Service confirmed that cocaine was found Sunday in the West Wing of the White House, believed to have been brought in by someone who works there or was authorized to be there. This development has led Republican lawmakers to raise broader questions about safety and drug use at the presidential residence.

In a letter to Secret Service Director Kimberly Cheatle, Mr. Cotton urged the agency to immediately provide information on the specific location within the White House complex where the substance was found.

“The American people deserve to know if illicit drugs were found in an area where confidential information is exchanged,” Mr. Cotton wrote (pdf).

The letter posed a series of questions to Ms Cheatle, seeking clarification on the security of the complex and requesting the Secret Service’s plan to address any identified security flaws.

“If the White House complex is not secure, Congress needs to know the details, as well as your plan to fix any security flaws,” Cotton, who is a member of the Criminal Justice and Counterterrorism Subcommittee, wrote.

It also requested a “complete list” of people who are allowed to enter the White House without undergoing full security checks, as well as those who are subject to lesser security screening requirements than those entering the West Wing, along with “the reasons by which said persons are not subject”. to complete the evaluation.

Mr. Cotton also requested data on the Secret Service’s use of K-9 assessments and information on audits conducted on its security procedures.

The letter also asked about the frequency of encounters with illegal drugs in the White House complex over the past five years. Citing a section of the US Code, Mr. Cotton asked whether the Secret Service would exercise its authority to make warrantless arrests for crimes committed in its presence or for any felony under federal law if the individual responsible is identified. of bringing cocaine to the White House. .

The Republican senator gave the director of the Secret Service until 5 p.m. on July 14 to respond. He also requested a briefing on the matter and the provision of confidential or law enforcement sensitive responses to his questions.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre speaks during a press conference at the White House in Washington on July 5, 2023. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times)

white house tight lips

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre declined to elaborate when asked multiple times about where the cocaine was found and the possible consequences that could arise from the Secret Service investigation.

He told reporters Wednesday that the substance was discovered in a “highly trafficked” area of ​​the West Wing, regularly accessed by visitors and staff. He expressed confidence in the Secret Service investigation, but declined to elaborate, saying repeatedly that the investigation is “under his purview.”

Anthony Guglielmi, head of communications for the Secret Service, told The Epoch Times on Wednesday that they will do everything possible to “identify who may have brought it.” He said the illicit substance was found in an area closed to the public but accessible to staff, the media, guests and other people with businesses in the West Wing during the security screening process.

“There are a multitude of people passing through this area. It is an open area for people who are authorized to be in the West Wing,” Mr. Guglielmi said.

In response to the news, former President Donald Trump, a candidate for the 2024 presidential election, took to Truth Social to express his skepticism.

“Does anyone really believe that the COCAINE that is in the West Wing of the White House, very close to the Oval Office, is for the use of anyone other than Hunter and Joe Biden?” Trump said Wednesday.

Ms. Jean-Pierre noted that the president and his family were at Camp David over the weekend. “They left on Friday and came back yesterday,” she said at Wednesday’s news conference.

Former Vice President Mike Pence, another 2024 candidate, expressed his disbelief during an interview on Hugh Hewitt’s nationally syndicated radio show on Wednesday. Pence said it would be “wall to wall” media coverage if cocaine had been found in the West Wing during the Trump-Pence administration.

“I mean, if the news I read is correct, this was, this wasn’t in the White House complex, was it?” Pence said. “This was at the residence itself, if I understand,” she added. “I was in the White House library.”

“We should know in real time who brought and left cocaine on a table in the White House residence, but I’m not holding my breath,” he added.

The White House was briefly evacuated Sunday night after the Secret Service found the illicit substance, which it described at the time only as an “unknown item.” The discovery of the mystery substance in the West Wing prompted the dispatch of a hazmat team, as well as the DC Fire Department and EMS.

Tom Ozimek contributed to this report.

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