A Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with Washington, D.C.’s Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department regarding cocaine found at the White House has been “denied in full.”
Bloomberg Business investigative journalist Jason Leopold filed the FOIA request with D.C.’s Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department seeking a “wide-range of documents” regarding the hazmat team’s response to cocaine found at the White House last month
Nineteen pages of responsive records were found, though documents were “withheld in full.”
The letter of denial cited two Washington, D.C. statutes which prohibit the disclosure of “investigative techniques and procedures not generally known outside of the government.”
NEW: I filed a #FOIA request with the DC Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department for a wide-range of docs related to the Hazmat team's response to the cocaine found at the WH.
19 pages of responsive records found. All withheld in full. pic.twitter.com/A7TTWIKzSF
— Jason Leopold (@JasonLeopold) August 17, 2023
“Under D.C. Official Code … you have the right to appeal this decision to the Mayor or to the Superior Court of the District of Columbia,” the response letter reads, adding Leopold may appeal to Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser in writing with “Freedom of Information Act Appeal” or “FOIA Appeal” in the subject. “The appeal must include (1) a copy of the original request; (2) a copy of any written denial; (3) a statement of the circumstances, reasons, and/or arguments advanced in support of disclosure; and (4) a daytime telephone number, and e-mail and/or U.S. Mail address at which you can be reached.”
Cocaine was reportedly found inside a recepticle used to temporarily store electronics and personal devices prior to entering the West Wing, according to an official statement released by United States Secret Service.
“Following the discovery, safety closures were implemented around the White House,” the statement continued, revealing the substance was not found to be a hazardous compound. “Testing conducted by the District of Columbia Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department indicated that the found powder tested preliminarily positive for the presence of cocaine.”
The statement went on to say:
While awaiting the FBl’s results, the Secret Service investigation into how this item entered the White House continued. The investigation included a methodical review of security systems and protocols. This review included a backwards examination that spanned several days prior to the discovery of the substance and developed an index of several hundred individuals who may have accessed the area where the substance was found. The focal point of these actions developed a pool of known persons for comparison of forensic evidence gleaned from the FBI’s analysis of the substance’s packaging.
The statement revealed FBI laboratory results did not develop latent fingerprints noting insufficient DNA was present for investigative comparisons.
“There was no surveillance video footage found that provided investigative leads or any other means for investigators to identify who may have deposited the found substance in this area,” the statement concluded. “Without physical evidence, the investigation will not be able to single out a person of interest from the hundreds of individuals who passed through the vestibule where the cocaine was discovered.”
United States Secret Service subsequently closed the investigation due to “lack of physical evidence.”