White House

White House Press Briefing Room Evacuated

After a brief evacuation by Secret Service on Tuesday for what the White House called a “telephonic bomb threat,” reporters were allowed back into the room.

National Journal
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Priscilla Alvarez
June 9, 2015, 10:24 a.m.

The Secret Ser­vice evac­u­ated the daily White House press brief­ing on Tues­day af­ter­noon fol­low­ing a bomb threat.

The Secret Ser­vice entered the Brady Brief­ing Room just after 2 p.m., about a half hour after the brief­ing began, while a re­port­er was ask­ing White House press sec­ret­ary Josh Earn­est a ques­tion about cy­ber­se­cur­ity. Press were evac­u­ated from the room, and al­lowed to re­turn about a half hour later.

The rest of the White House was not evac­u­ated. Earn­est said he was “cer­tainly” not aware of any threat to the pres­id­ent. Pres­id­ent Obama was in the Oval Of­fice at the time of the evac­u­ation, and re­mained there as the brief­ing room was cleared out. The rest of the first fam­ily was in their res­id­ence, and was not evac­u­ated.

When the brief­ing re­sumed, Earn­est said that “a tele­phon­ic bomb threat con­cern­ing the room that we are now all in” was phoned in to loc­al po­lice.

“Loc­al po­lice de­part­ment con­tac­ted Secret Ser­vice of­fi­cials who de­term­ined that, for the safety of all of us, they needed to evac­u­ate the room and to sweep it,” he said.

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When asked about the more than 20 minutes between when the call came in and the evac­u­ation, Earn­est said, “I don’t know how long it took for the in­form­a­tion to be trans­mit­ted to the Secret Ser­vice and for the de­cision to be made to evac­u­ate the room, but the evac­u­ation was con­duc­ted to pro­tect the safety of all of us.”

Pres­id­ent Obama re­turned to the White House from a speech at the Wash­ing­ton Mar­ri­ott Ward­man Park at 12:41 p.m., ac­cord­ing to pool re­ports.

Earli­er in the day, Cap­it­ol Po­lice evac­u­ated sev­er­al floors in the Dirk­sen Sen­ate of­fice build­ing after a caller re­por­ted a sus­pi­cious pack­age, an un­at­ten­ded lunch cool­er in the Rus­sell Court­yard. Cap­it­ol Po­lice found “noth­ing haz­ard­ous” after check­ing it out.

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Dur­ing the in­vest­ig­a­tion, busi­ness else­where con­tin­ued as usu­al. The Cap­it­ol’s sub­way con­tin­ued to run to Dirk­sen, and the build­ing’s cafet­er­ia and cof­fee shop re­mained open. People were al­lowed back to the af­fected floors after Cap­it­ol Po­lice cleared the area.

This story has been up­dated.


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