A suspicious powder discovered in the West Wing of the White House has been confirmed as cocaine in a preliminary test, two law enforcement officials said.
The White House was briefly evacuated on Sunday evening while President Joe Biden was at Camp David after Secret Service agents discovered the powder.
The agents were doing routine rounds on Sunday when they found the white powder in a West Wing area accessible to tour groups, the officials anonymously told the Associated Press.
The West Wing is attached to the executive mansion where the president lives and includes the Oval Office, cabinet
room and press area, along with offices and workspace for the president’s advisers and staff.
The powder was found in a common area and not in any particular office, the officials said.
The White House was evacuated at about 8.45 pm on Sunday as fire and emergency crews were brought in to do a rapid test.
The Secret Service said the closure was a precaution as emergency crews investigated.
They added the District of Columbia fire department was called in to evaluate and determine that the substance was not hazardous.
The Washington Post has reported that the fire department identified the white powder as being cocaine.
A recording of a dispatch call made at 8.49 pm local time on Sunday reveals a firefighter saying: “We have a yellow bar stating cocaine hydrochloride.”
The White House was soon reopened after it was evacuated and the powder was sent for further testing.
“The item was sent for further evaluation and an investigation into the cause and manner of how it entered the White House is pending,” the Secret Service said.
Mr Biden and his family left for Camp David on Friday and returned to the White House on Tuesday.