Salahi Limo Stopped Near White House

Secret Service stops limo at Ellipse

Would it surprise anyone that the Salahis were lurking somewhere near the White House during Wednesday night's state dinner?

A Secret Service spokesman told NBC News that a limo with Tareq and Michaele Salahi inside was stopped Wednesday night close to the White House after the driver ran a red light.

The spokesman told NBC News that an officer in the Secret Service uniformed division saw the limo go through the red light, then appear to prepare to drive onto the Ellipse, a street near the White House not open to normal traffic.

When the limo stopped and put on its flashers, the officer questioned the driver and the Salahis. The driver was given a ticket and allowed to leave.

One government official told NBC News that it appeared that the Salahis were preparing to be photographed in front of the White House during the state dinner, but said there was no indication they were trying to get into the dinner.

The Salahis confirmed that the stop occurred to NBC News correspondent Savannah Guthrie.

Tareq Salahi told Guthrie that it was an "unbelievable coincidence" that the couple's limo was stopped near the White House on the very night of the state dinner.

The Salahis said they were on their way to a dinner with friends at Kellari Taverna -- an event their attorney said had been planned for at least two weeks.

They were in a limousine with friends, including a camera crew from "Inside Edition" the Salahis said had been shooting a "lifestyle piece" on the couple all day.

The couple denies that they had planned the dinner party for that particular day or location because the state dinner was occurring that same night. But by Wednesday night, of course, they were aware that there was a state dinner happening.

"We knew," Tareq Salahi said. "It was all over the news."

The Salahis said the driver was questioned by a Secret Service officer, who then asked to see who else was in the car. Upon seeing the Salahis, he ordered them, and the rest of the occupants, out of the car and asked for IDs, the couple said. The Salahis said they did not have their IDs with them.

The Salahis said they did not feel harassed by the Secret Service.

"I would just assume that they were doing the jobs," Tareq Salahi said, describing the officers as "very professional, very courteous."

When Guthrie asked whether the Salahis had planned to be around the White House as a publicity stunt, or whether they intended to crash the event, their lawyer, David Silek, replied: "Absolutely not, they would not do that. They would never go where they're not invited."

The Associated Press reported that the Salahis had a swell time despite being pulled over.

"They had a great time with their friends," Athina Balda, marketing manager for Kellari Taverna, told the AP. "There were a lot of cameras and photographers."

Balda told the AP that the group of 10-12 people was there from about 8-10 p.m., and that there was a lot of filming going on. The group dined on crab cakes, grilled fish and other dishes.

But even still, Michaele Salahi said the incident near the White House brought back bad memories.

"You get a very sick feeling in your stomach. I said to people in the car, 'I wanna go home,'" she said. "You're like, 'Wow, can this be happening?'"

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