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Cocaine found at White House’s area for visitors

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Cocaine discovered at the White House was left in an area frequently used by visitors on tours – and not while United States (US) President Joe Biden and his family were on the premises, officials said on Wednesday.

The White House sought to get the highly unusual story under control as details emerged of the drug’s discovery on Sunday in one of the most guarded buildings in the world.

Initial reports were of a white powder, sparking fears of the kind of episode regularly occurring in official Washington buildings where unidentified powders found during searches or received in the mail are treated as potential chemical attacks.

This prompted a brief evacuation. But an entirely new set of alarms went off when preliminary analysis by technicians from the city’s fire department determined the substance was actually cocaine.

On Wednesday, the US Secret Service, which protects the presidential mansion, announced it “just confirmed that substance found was cocaine and our investigation is ongoing”.

Biden has made a priority of restoring traditional decorum to the White House after the Donald Trump years, which included reports that the former president had a habit of flushing documents down toilets. However, the 80-year-old Democrat has been dogged by salacious reporting over his son Hunter’s troubled private life, not least the trained lawyer’s well-documented battle with severe drug addiction.

The cocaine revelation immediately sparked unsubstantiated speculation in right-wing circles that the recovering drug user was somehow responsible.

A view of the West Wing of the White House in Washington DC, United States. PHOTO: AFP