FACT CHECK: The Secret Service Can't Determine Who Brought Cocaine to the White House

Joe and Hunter Biden (Getty Images)
July 6, 2023

Claim: The Secret Service is unlikely to identify the person who left a bag of cocaine at the White House over the weekend.

Who said it: Politico, citing an unidentified law enforcement official "familiar with the investigation."

Context: One of the most secure buildings in the world was temporarily evacuated Sunday following the discovery of a small bag of cocaine on the premises. The Secret Service said Wednesday an investigation is underway to find the culprit. But an anonymous source with knowledge of the probe is working the press to temper public expectations that the fugitive will ever be found.

The discovery of the illicit substance at the White House could have serious implications for President Joe Biden, especially if the cocaine was found in the "library" of the executive mansion, as the Washington, D.C., fire department said in a Sunday dispatch call. The library is located in the living quarters of the White House, where Hunter Biden, a recovering drug addict, is rumored to be living.

Though Joe Biden and his scandal-plagued son were not at the White House on Sunday, Biden spokesman Andrew Bates refused to deny Thursday that the cocaine belonged to Hunter Biden. "I don’t have a response to that because we have to be careful about the Hatch Act," he said. No provision in the Hatch Act, which prevents federal officials from influencing elections on taxpayer time, would prevent Bates from answering that question.

The Secret Service offered a second version of events on Wednesday, saying in a statement the cocaine was discovered in a highly trafficked cubby area in the West Wing where visitors store their phones during tours of the building. And on Thursday, NBC News reported a third version of events, that the cocaine was actually found in a different White House cubby near the West Executive entrance, an area near where the vice president’s limo is parked.

The unidentified law enforcement officer quoted by Politico said it would be "very difficult" for the Secret Service to identify the source of the cocaine because the West Wing cubby area is "a bit of a thoroughfare. People walk by there all the time."

Analysis: Konstantinos Gus Dimitrelos, a former Secret Service agent, scoffed at the suggestion that law enforcement officials lack the ability to identify the individual who brought cocaine into the White House.

"It’s not like Disney World. People aren’t just coming in and out," Dimitrelos told the Washington Free Beacon. "There are cameras there. They could easily go back to the camera footage to see who had something coming out of their pocket that resembled whatever the package looked like."

Contacting White House visitors is not a heavy lift for the Secret Service, Dimitrelos added. Anyone who takes a tour of the West Wing undergoes a Secret Service background check weeks before arriving at the White House, he said.

"They’ve absolutely got everybody’s contact information. They can interview every single person," Dimitrelos said.

The Secret Service has the ability to determine who left the cocaine at the White House on Sunday. What remains to be determined is whether the service has the will to use the investigative tools at its disposal to find the culprit.

Verdict: We rate this claim 4.5 Clintons.
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