Jul 5, 2023 - Politics & Policy

GOP senator probes White House cocaine discovery

Sen. Tom Cotton. Photo: Stefani Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) on Wednesday pressed the Secret Service for information on its ongoing investigation into the reported discovery of cocaine at the White House.

Why it matters: Republican lawmakers are using the development to raise broader questions about security and drug use at the White House.

Driving the news: Cotton, in a letter to Secret Service Director Kimberly Cheatle, called for the agency to "quickly" release information about where in the White House complex the substance was found.

  • White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters Wednesday that the substance was found in a "heavily traveled" area of the West Wing where visitors and staff routinely pass through.
  • "The American people deserve to know whether illicit drugs were found in an area where confidential information is exchanged," Cotton wrote.

Zoom in: The letter asks whether the complex is secure and, if not, the Secret Service's "plan to correct any security flaws."

  • Cotton wants a "complete list" of people who aren't subject to a full security screening at the White House, statistics on the Secret Service's use of K-9 screenings and details on audits of their security procedures.
  • He also asked how often the Secret Service has "encountered illegal drugs at the White House complex" in the last five years and whether they will exercise their ability to make an arrest of a suspect is identified.
  • Spokespeople for the Secret Service and the White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Between the lines: Cotton is one of the GOP's most vocally tough-on-crime figures.

  • He generated significant controversy in 2020 when he wrote a New York Times op-ed urging then-President Trump to "send in the troops" to quell civil unrest over the murder of George Floyd.
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