Vice President Mike Pence is in critical but stable condition this afternoon after eating a bowl of oatmeal believed to have been laced with cinnamon.
Doctors from Walter Reed Medical Center confirmed that his condition stabilized but that Pence remained in a medically induced coma with renal failure and burns to the inside of his mouth.
Officials said the Vice President collapsed at 7:35am in the cafeteria of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building after sitting down to breakfast. Aides said Pence took a single bite of his meal and became confused and disoriented. They described a harrowing scene as he fell to the floor in convulsions, bleeding from the nostrils and mouth.
Authorities have tracked the source of the contamination to a canister containing a reddish-brown powder identified as cinnamon in the cafeteria’s kitchen and have detained the cooking and wait staff for questioning.
“We are cooperating with federal and state health department officials as well as liaisons from the Food Network on this investigation to determine how the foreign substance found its way inside or atop the Vice President’s food,” said FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe, adding that while investigators are focusing their effort on cinnamon, they have not ruled out nutmeg or brown sugar.
Investigators have examined the medical records of more than 300 patients in nearby hospitals linked to cinnamon. They caution that the material could be circulating through the U.S. food supply within items like graham crackers, applesauce or carrot cakes.
The Department of Homeland Security has set up a tip-line asking that anyone with information about individuals known to have voiced hostility toward Vice President Pence or his policies and with access to cinnamon, to contact them immediately.