In this Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2009 photo, Michaele and Tareq Salahi, right, arrive at a state dinner hosted by President Barack Obama for Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the White House in Washington. The Secret Service is looking into its own security procedures after determining that the Virginia couple managed to slip into Tuesday night's state dinner at the White House even though they were not on the guest list, agency spokesman Ed Donovan said. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Virginia's top serial attention seekers, who apparently crashed President Barack Obama's first state dinner, admitted to a federal official they went without a confirmed invitation in case they got last-minute approval, the Associated Press reported.
Tareq and Michaele Salahi claimed a dead cell phone battery prevented them from getting a message earlier that day advising them they did not make the guest list, according to the AP.
The Salahis gave that account in an e-mail sent hours after the dinner to a Pentagon official who had tried to get them invited.
Which means all their "Today" show indignation Tuesday morning was a bunch of baloney. But we already knew that, didn't we?
Still, there's plenty of wiggle room for spin here. The couple told "Today's" Matt Lauer they were invited to the state dinner but didn't say who offered the invite. And, of course, an "invite" isn't exactly the same thing as actually being on the guest list. But if they weren't, how could they turn back before their camera opportunities? Imagine how many people they already may have tried to impress with the news of their very important engagement.
On Tuesday, "Access Hollywood's" body language expert broke down the Salahis' BS, analyzing their "Today" performance and pointing out where and how it called their "credibility" into (even more) question. (You can view the two-part segment here and here.)
The crashers -- er, Salahis -- told Lauer that they are cooperating with the Secret Service's internal review, but Tareq Salahi also added, "I can tell you we did not party-crash the White House." They said they would offer more information to "Today" after the Secret Service review, presumably the e-mails they said prove their innocence in the matter. But once again, they refused to share any details of said e-mails. Tareq Salahi said that the couple has been "very candid" with the Secret Service and said, "We have turned over documentation to them."
The Washington Post reported the couple exchanged e-mails with a member of the Defense Department -- Michele S. Jones, special assistant to the secretary of defense -- before the state dinner. They allegedly asked for her help to get them into the event, but she denied she gave the all clear.
"I did not state at any time, or imply that I had tickets for ANY portion of the evening's events," Jones said in a statement. "I specifically stated that they did not have tickets and in fact that I did not have the authority to authorize attendance, admittance or access to any part of the evening's activities. Even though I informed them of this, they still decided to come."
The Salahis pressed the friendly Pentagon aide for four days to score tickets to the big event, according to the AP. By their own admission in the e-mails, they showed up at the White House gates at 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 24 without an invitation, but the Secret Service has said they weren't on that list and that it erred by letting them in anyway.
"Hi Michele," the Salahis e-mailed. "You are an angel. ... We ended up going to the gate ... just to check in case [our request] got approved since we didn't know. And our name was indeed on the list. :)"
"Tareq, you are most welcome!" Jones replied. "Delighted that you and Michaele had a wonderful time. :)"
Still not sure who to believe? Check out excerpts from the e-mail exchanges here.
Meanwhile, Vice President Joe Biden, who posed for photos with the Salahis, said he didn't know the couple, but had assumed they were invited guests.
"I just assumed like everyone else they were guests. They acted like they knew everybody in the room," Biden said Wednesday in morning television interviews. They acted, Biden said, "like they were my old buddies."
Asked whether he thought the couple should face criminal charges for attending without an invitation, Biden said: "There's an old joke: That's above my pay grade."
The people at that pay grade -- members of the House Committee on Homeland Security -- have scheduled a hearing on the potential security risk the Salahis' alleged egos highlighted. The Salahis have been INVITED to offer testimony Thursday.
Then what? We hope they don't get cast in "The Real Housewives of D.C.," as they so desire, but how can Bravo resist, now? Even if more of America hates them than loves them, too many Americans love to hate.
Even if they get passed over by Bravo, some other "reality" program will come calling, and their high-profile neurosis would be perfect fodder for Dr. Phil.
Sadly, they're going to get more than 15 minutes before they fade from memory.