Analyzing the Salahi e-mails: Confusion, naivete, contradicting their own story
So they weren't invited.
At the end of the day, that's what a series of e-mails released by Tareq and Michaele Salahi's lawyers late Tuesday tell us.
Of course we've known for at least a week they weren't invited -- ever since the day after the state dinner, when the White House confirmed that the flamboyant duo on the red carpet but seemingly not on the guest list was really truly not on the guest list.
Why did their lawyers release these e-mails? Apparently to show that the Salahis, now facing possible criminal prosecution, didn't willfully trespass at the White House -- that they were, instead, confused. And maybe overly hopeful that an official who promised she'd try to make it work really would.
At best, the Salahis come across in the e-mails as naive: When the Pentagon's Michele Jones tells them she'll try to get them into the arrival ceremony -- a daytime event that can accomodate hundreds more people than an elite state dinner -- they assumed she meant the receiving line for dinner. (At least that's how their lawyers are now telling reporters they interpreted it.) At the worst, they come across in the e-mails as pushy: Going ahead to the White House just "in case," though they never had a message to indicate they should.
(Jones isn't quite off the hook. Unclear why she'd ever hold out any hope to them that she might be able to get them into the dinner.)
But the e-mails also seem to contradict much of what the Salahis have said since the debacle.
They said on "Today" Tuesday morning they "were invited" to the dinner. The e-mails now show not only that they had no invitation, no oral or written promise of entrance, nothing urging them to show up -- but that they knew they did not.
Tareq's own e-mail at the end of the night states they went to the White House with no expectation of entree -- that they took a chance, and it worked. But even if that fluke opening-of-doors (subject of an ongoing inquiry into White House security) led them to believe for the rest of the evening that they had legitimately scored an invite... well, by the next day, they knew, humiliatingly, that they were mistaken, once the White House had denied they were anyone's guests.
And yet in following days, they continued to allow their lawyers and representatives to put out statements stating that they were "cleared" for entry, if not outright stating they were "invited." A Salahi friend told Larry King Monday that the social secretary's office corresponded with Michaele about what to wear. There's nothing in e-mails to support anything like this.
It's as if the Salahis have taken an issue that was for the White House a question of security, and for themselves a question of legal defense -- and twisted it around into a point of honor.
Not: How dare you imply that we trespassed! But: How dare you imply we're not good enough to get invited!
Which may be why they claimed on national television that they were invited. But they weren't invited. And they knew that.
The Reliable Source
December 2, 2009; 2:30 PM ET
Categories: White House crashers
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