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Salahis plead Fifth but can't escape congressional scolding at hearing on White House security

Tareq and Michaele Salahi testify before the House Homeland Security Committee Wednesday morning. (Tracy A. Woodward/The Washington Post)

The Salahis could plead the Fifth all they wanted in a congressional hearing Wednesday, but that wasn't going to protect them from a blistering bipartisan tongue-lashing.

"You have shown effrontery here," Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Calif) thundered at the state dinner-crashing couple.

"Time is the only thing we have of value, and I can't believe how much of ours you're wasting," chided Rep. Chris Carney (D-Penn).

"I would infer from your actions today that you don't feel any regret about the problems you've caused," scolded Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy (D-Ohio).

Zing! Plus, a lot of stagy questions through which congressfolk hinted their disapproval of what they portrayed as the Salahis' fame-seeking, authority-mocking and brazen-Facebook-posting ways. It did a lot to enliven a hearing at which no actual new information about the horse-country duo's mysterious Nov. 24 appearance at the White House was divulged.

Which everyone knew going into it. When subpoenaed last month by the Committee on Homeland Security, Tareq and Michaele Salahi announced they would assert their constitutional right to not answer questions that might incriminate them. Though they have not been charged with anything, a federal grand jury is probing possible lies to federal agents in the matter. They also declined a chance to talk to the committee in a behind-closed-doors executive session. Which the committee's ranking minority member, Rep. Peter King (R-NY) said was just as well: "They're not going to have state secrets." King has agitated for White House officials like Social Secretary Desiree Rogers to testify about the security lapses; the White House has declined. Without them, the committee was just "going through the motions," King complained.

But still: It was both a media-crazed photo-op for the couple, who have mostly kept a low profile since the scandal broke (well, except for that Vegas nightclub appearance last weekend) -- and a chance for Congress to chew them out.

Tareq Salahi appeared before the committee in a dark suit; his wife looked classically Michaele-icious in a short white skirt suit, black ankle boots and hose, and a luxe white fur-trimmed wrap. He did most of the talking.

The Salahis arrive with their lawyer, Stephen Best (left), at the House Homeland Security Committee room on Wednesday.Enlarge Image

Did the Salahis get an invitation in the mail? asked Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss). What did they say to Secret Service at the gate? Did officers check their names on a list? Did they provide ID at the door? And so on. To each, Tareq Salahi responded: "I respectfully assert my right to remain silent and decline to answer your question."

In his opening statement, Salahi had complained that the committee required them to appear and hadn't taken up their attorney's offer to give information instead -- and then wrapped up by stating that he and Michaele "are strong supporters of the men and women in uniform," and that "nothing that transpired on Nov. 24 should take away from the extraordinary service the United States Secret Service performs on a daily basis."

This really ticked off the committee.

Respect for the Secret Service? "You did not show that," said Lungren. "I was going to sit here and remain silent until I heard that last statement."

Said Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-Texas): "I ask you to check your patriotism and find out why you had to do something of this level." She also pronounced their name "Sal-EE-ha."

Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) tore into their attorney, Stephen Best, sitting behind the Salahis, for "bobb[ing] his head up and down" while King and others placed blame with the White House. "You can do that all you want. It's not going to take the heat off your clients."

Then it got personal. Rep. Candice Miller (R-Mich), said the Salahis "may be beautiful on the outside... but people will be judged on their content of their character." She added, scathingly: "It's almost surreal to be looking at these people who wanted to be on some show called Desperate Housewives of Washington D.C. or whatever." ("Real Housewives of D.C.," but whatever.)

"Did you have a good time in Las Vegas?" asked Rep. Dina Titus (D-Nev), citing their celebrity "hosting" appearance at Pure nightclub Saturday. "Did you notice people had to stand in line and pay a fee -- and they don't allow party crashers?"

On the way out of the Cannon House Office Building, attorney Best held a brief press conference. He called the hearing a "charade" and "public flogging." He said Congress would find the real answers by subpoenaing Rogers and Michele S. Jones, a Pentagon official whom the Salahis had e-mailed before the state dinner in their quest for an invitation.

"The Salahis are innocent and have committed no criminal act," he said. "They believed in their hearts they were invited to the White House. This was not a stunt."

Below: Video of the Salahis pleading the Fifth.

By The Reliable Source  |  January 20, 2010; 1:50 PM ET
Categories:  44: Obama's Washington , Politics , White House crashers  
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This is such a joke. Why is Congress even taking time to mess with this? The Salahis are just crazy media hounds. They are loving every minute of this. Why they are not in jail or charged with a crime is just nutz!

Posted by: runtim | January 20, 2010 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Don't worry Runtim, these grifters will get there due. After the state of Virginia declares that their purported charity really isn't, the IRS is going to go after them and the poor folks who donated and took deductions on their returns. These two are in a heap 'o trouble on fraud and tax issues. And, ultimately, their biggest punishment will likely be complete ostracization by the Washington and Virgina elite with whom they were so desperate to rub elbows. Hosting a party at a Vegas nightclub over the weekend shows just how low and how fast they have fallen. Just watch, at some point, she'll file for divorce and claim he abused her and forced her into this life of deception and lies. And, of course, she'll regain her fame, boo-hooing on Oprah or some other afternoon talk show. Book to follow shortly after that.

Posted by: Sammy61 | January 20, 2010 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Too stupid to live. What a pair of twits. Now stop wasting time with them, and put them back in the closet.

Posted by: jckdoors | January 20, 2010 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Christopher Carney blames the Salahis for wasting his time? How about the Committee Chair? Or Congress for calling this stupid hearing that was solely an opportunity for congresspeople to preen on tv and display their indignation?

Go work on health care or figuring out how to stop underwear bombers.

Posted by: ah___ | January 20, 2010 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Isay this... you know who the players are... Congress can make it happen. this violates the Code of National Security... if two low class wanna be's can walk right in... a terrorists twit will have no problems. Just go after everyone and demand information, period!

Posted by: rvanags | January 20, 2010 4:01 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, give them MORE publicity. Idiots all.

Posted by: TooManyPeople | January 20, 2010 4:27 PM | Report abuse

Would the press do us all a favor and ignore these most tacky of people?

Posted by: AlanBrowne | January 20, 2010 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Doesn't congress have anything to do? How much money was wasted on these hearing? How bout doing real work. What a joke.

Posted by: stuartcohen1 | January 20, 2010 4:38 PM | Report abuse

"You have shown affrontery here," Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Calif) thundered at the state dinner-crashing couple.

It is spelled "effrontery" and yes they were.

I am not sure which I am more concerned about though;

1. The fact some posers make it into a state dinner with Obama,


2. Obama is leading the war on terror.

Posted by: Consternation | January 20, 2010 4:54 PM | Report abuse

Two low lifers.

Posted by: truth1 | January 20, 2010 5:02 PM | Report abuse

Posters are blathering on and on about these two taking the Fifth. Well, if you or I were called before one of those Byzantine hearings, we'd be idiots not to take the Fifth. All that awaits them or us is some lame trap by the same crooked swine that have permitted our jobs to be outsourced.

Posted by: mibrooks27 | January 20, 2010 5:03 PM | Report abuse

These two aren't in jail because they committed no crime. That said, they are social morons playing a big game of a rope a dope in an effort to gain a payoff somewhere down the road. They'll need it to pay for their high powered attorney fees, lest of course, he himself gets stiffed. Biglaw can't afford that these days.

Posted by: sassafrasnewport | January 20, 2010 5:07 PM | Report abuse

In Vegas, the Salahis indicated that if you wanted to know the truth look at the State Deparment. I still am amazed that the top aide under Gates was never questioned as she was the one communicating with the Salahis, the one with the questionable resume, and the one connected to all three party crashers. She was the one the the Salahis emailed to advise that their breach of security was successful. Why aren't these sleezy idiots in jail? Consequences of one behavior allows for evaluation by all if said behavior is rewarding. So far, all party crashers have been rewarded.

Posted by: xclntcat | January 20, 2010 5:10 PM | Report abuse

Just saw the picture of Mr. Salahi rolling his eyes. Bet if he were back in his country of origin, he wouldn't have retained the use of those eyes after that. And her, ugh. Trailer trash turned diva built on a life that is as false as her eyelashes. Nothing worse.

Posted by: sassafrasnewport | January 20, 2010 5:11 PM | Report abuse

Gee, Tareq & Micheale, I thought you wanted to be in the spotlight. Now you want to run away from it all the time? Being in the spotlight doesn't feel so good when it's not on your terms, does it? Personally, it was a pleasure to see both of you, as well as your attorney, get the Riot Act read to you, all the while asserting your protection against self-incrimination. To paraphrase H.L. Mencken, both of you know what you want and deserve to get it good and hard.

As Dr. Phil always says, "Choose the action, choose the consequences." Or as Pastor James McDonald puts it more bluntly, "Choose to sin, choose to suffer."

Posted by: ehsmith1 | January 20, 2010 5:12 PM | Report abuse

No surprise here. Even these 2 nincompoops know what to say when their lawyer tells them so in no uncertain terms - and, BTW, you can be sure he's either gotten his fee in cash up front, or he's willingly representing them pro bono (for free) to get his own publicity.

And no real loss to the "investigation" for these 2 to "take the 5th": nothing they say could possibly have any credibility anyway, in light of all their lying and fraud that has been exposed.

So, yes, today was a charade. But the committee had to go through the motions of subpoenaing the Salahis to appear, or else their investigation would lose credibility. The real information will have to come from others in the know... assuming their political bosses will abide by lawful processes and let them tell it. Which remains to be seen.

And now that the Salahis have had their necessary day in the spotlight, let's all hope that the only other things we hear about them are the many civil and criminal trials that should be brought against them.

Posted by: nan_lynn | January 20, 2010 5:15 PM | Report abuse

Salahis' it's time for your closeups.

Posted by: whocares666 | January 20, 2010 6:00 PM | Report abuse

Why didn't one of these Congressmen have the sense to ask the Salahis this question. "If, as you claim, you had an invitation, then how can answering our questions incriminate you? You can only be incriminated if you're lying, and had no invitation."

Posted by: gasmonkey | January 20, 2010 6:19 PM | Report abuse

They apparently have craved attention.
Well, golly, now they've got it.
Be careful what you wish for, because it just might come true.

Posted by: LAWPOOL | January 20, 2010 6:30 PM | Report abuse

I don't know which is stupider the Salahis' who are bathing in the limelight or the congress who, having called the Salahis before them while they are under investigation, actually thought they would say any thing but invoke the fifth amendment. Don't they have an attorny?

Posted by: Jimof1913 | January 20, 2010 6:38 PM | Report abuse

Who's the stupider? Think it may the bunch at the WH.
Desiree Rogers and Michelle Jones - a coverup is a coverup.

Posted by: edismae | January 20, 2010 7:11 PM | Report abuse

I feel so sorry for Michelle Jones. It's pretty obvious she was a greenhorn in DC who hadn't yet learned you don't be polite to favor-seeking friends of friends, but tell 'em "No" right from the start.

I still think the Salahi's only planned to be filmed up to the point of arriving at the gate where they'd wave good-bye to the cameras and then later lie about their evening... But, they kept getting passed until they were in.

Or, whatever.... will we ever know?

Posted by: dadada | January 20, 2010 7:19 PM | Report abuse

"Innocent" people refuse to speak?

Hey, Mr. and Mrs. Salahi--just show us your invitation, and this mess is over. . . .Or are you still liking all the attention you're getting?

Posted by: momof20yo | January 20, 2010 7:23 PM | Report abuse

"'Time is the only thing we have of value, and I can't believe how much of ours you're wasting,' chided Rep. Chris Carney (D-Penn)."

What a dumb thing to say. Someone should tell Rep. Carney, that the Salahi's were there at Congress's "request" not the Salahi's. So who is wasting who's time, Mr. Carney?

Posted by: Frazil | January 20, 2010 7:27 PM | Report abuse

Mrs. Salahi did allow her "breadwinner" to speak for her. Somehow the hair did not work. If she rented or bought more, fuller extensions - it was too much! Where are her parents and sisters to help her in her time of need? Even the make up was too much. She held her chin up the whole time...that was smart because she is long of chin. Now, that fold around white blankie she was wearing.hopefully it comforted her...oh, my goodness!
It was important for some of the congresspersons to help her - be her mentors for a few minutes...Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee did give her some serious talk..just because Mrs. Salahi is blond and probably bleached, does not mean she is that dumb...she may be able to learn and to turn her life around.
The problem with Bravo is that as far as we know...Mrs. Salahi is not, NOT a Washington Housewife. I do not know if Virginia will claim her, but our blonds have real hair and a bit of class...sorry, but Mrs. Salahi can play catch up.
Racial profiling came up...well, now that we have skinny blonds on the list...that is a good thing. If Mrs. Salahi gets some new sure to inspect...what a great place to hide powder or also in other places...And so it goes...but, I repeat do not think that Wash. DC housewives look anything like Mrs. Salahi...although, perhaps she could sell the earlier extensions on ebay...And so it goes....

Posted by: judithclaire1939 | January 20, 2010 7:47 PM | Report abuse

They missed their chance for even a greater share of the world press. He should have worn home boy cutoff pants and a wife beater. She should have showed up in shorts and a tank top. Fame is fleeting and as the limelight fades, their future 'party circuit' will only include venues having sawdust on the floor.

Posted by: mosthind | January 20, 2010 8:01 PM | Report abuse

Why can't someone grab the jacket off her back and sell it on ebay...maybe get 20 bucks to give to their gardener or homeowners association, or the doctors,or any of the other people they cheated out of the 'charity events',. How many hours did she spend with the stylists this morning? I hope none, not a very good ad for the salon.

Posted by: at0165 | January 20, 2010 8:01 PM | Report abuse

This is a matter for the Secret Service
not Congress...when will these people figure out why they are hated by the American people ?

Posted by: metroman76 | January 20, 2010 8:02 PM | Report abuse

Why haven't they called the Secret Service or the White House Party Planner in to testify. These two are Private Citizens. Why is congress wasting time "questioning" and "scolding" private citizens instead of holding the responsible people accountable....

Posted by: kenayers1 | January 20, 2010 8:17 PM | Report abuse

The one time when the Salahi's are the classiest people in the room. WOW the people in Congress are a mess. November can't come soon enough!!

Posted by: hannah06 | January 20, 2010 8:22 PM | Report abuse

po white trash,skanky weave wearing and foreign born wannabes can con their way in anywhere.
have standards and keep them for everyone.

Posted by: ninnafaye | January 20, 2010 9:04 PM | Report abuse

These two are very smart and intelligent cheaters. Obviously they can raise their hour TV rate now by getting their name in the paper agaaaaaıııınnn. The congress folks that raised all the questions I had never heard of although they did tttttrrrryyyyyy.

Posted by: ridagana | January 20, 2010 9:21 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: staterighter | January 20, 2010 9:30 PM | Report abuse

The freaks in Congress have finally found someone they can bully to their hearts' content. Let's see them talk so abusively to Ben Bernanke or General Petraeus or the president of a "too-big-to-fail" bank. Hypocrites.

Posted by: rickycook21 | January 20, 2010 9:32 PM | Report abuse

How can the Honorable Mr. Carney claim the time being wasted is his? The taxpayers paid for that time. I bet Mr. Carney has no trouble double-dipping by meeting with lobbyists during time paid for by the public. Often politicians are asked what do lobbyists get in turn for their donations, and the answer is usually "access". What right do lobbyists have to access Congressmen during business hours paid for by taxpayers? Lobbyists are themselves gate-crashers. Let the lobbyists meet with Congressmen on the Congressman's OWN time: weekends and evenings.

Posted by: RC11 | January 20, 2010 9:33 PM | Report abuse

I hear that when they filed their taxes she said "Wait, we don't have to file yet! I got us some extensions!" "Honey, not THAT type of extensions."

Posted by: steveboyington | January 20, 2010 9:42 PM | Report abuse

and this president wants to keep the terrorists out of America when he cant even keep tresspassers out of the whitehouse.

Posted by: infantry11b4faus | January 20, 2010 9:44 PM | Report abuse

What was the Top-Gun quote: Your ego is writing checks your butt can't cash. These ego-starved fools who must have their pitiful lives shown on TV for everyone to see. What kind of a life do "reality stars" - gagging on "stars" really have? The look-at-me, I'm somebody crap. Are their lives so low that they need a camera on their life?

But to sneak into a State Dinner at the White House, to have a person on the no fly list fly into the U.S. with a bomb at Christmas - sure Obama-boy, America is safer with you at the helm.

HOPE. Hope to hell you figure out how to play President real soon.

HOPE. Hope that we get some real candidates on the ballots in 2012 to replace you.

If they refuse to answer, prosecute them for criminal trespass, and proceed to go after them in Civil Court - the only reality these fools understand is taking away their bank accounts - they will get plenty of camera time on the courthouse steps.

Pathetic - really, really pathetic lives these two live to do this for attention. Come on shrinks - what is the name of this mental illness?

Posted by: RL_Cudd | January 20, 2010 9:46 PM | Report abuse

I am a Jewish girl, like dancing, hiking, making friends and sex. I have signed up on *** JewishFlirts. coooooom *** where Jewish seeking love, fun, friends online. My username is “sassygirl052”. Welcome to visit my homepage!!!

Posted by: katrina8532 | January 20, 2010 10:14 PM | Report abuse

Hello friends, did anyone notice if their best pal Commonwealth of Virginia's ReMax Distinctive Real Estate, Inc. Realtor *Nathaniel Casey Margenau was with them today? * Reference url: If not, I guess there isn't anyone that would have the audacity or the poor behavior to do that. What is with Smith&Wesson ( url, ) being an OFFICIAL PARTNER with the Salahi's, according to Missy's FB page and the Salahi's website url: in their upcoming fundraising event?

Posted by: Loviedarling | January 20, 2010 10:23 PM | Report abuse

Yes, I think a quick little call to IRS could really turn up the heat over the Salahi's "so called charity". They really won't need to do much testifying, they can just turn over their paperwork. Their arrogance will not serve them well. I wish she would have turned up in a fake cheerleaders outfit, then all this wouldn't be so annoying.

Posted by: fitley | January 20, 2010 11:02 PM | Report abuse

They're not so full of smiles NOW, are they?

Posted by: waterfrontproperty | January 20, 2010 11:46 PM | Report abuse

The Salahi's really enjoy the media attention. They are publicity hounds and also are con artists. Thw Wine business must be slacking off a bit and they needed to kick the entertainment factor up a bit. But to me they are a sad excuse for people who think they are a cut above the common folk of this great nation.

Posted by: npsilver | January 20, 2010 11:52 PM | Report abuse

This charade was a disgrace, of course. Congress has nothing better to do except organize Salahi (as in "slimy") and steroid investigations while the nation careens over the precipice. This country is a joke and nobody is laughing.

Posted by: marcnmmi | January 21, 2010 12:14 AM | Report abuse

the "scoldings" ???


like the salahis give a sht about what dan lungren says... or what a peon such as rep chris carney says, or what a loser such as rep mary jo kilroy say...

congress is FULL of losers. this episode just proves it yet again.

you people are POWERLESS to enforce the law. the salahis are laughing their a_sses off at you! you congress people, with your condemnations look like absolute FOOLS!

kilroy, "you don't care what problems you caused.. WHAAAAAA! WHAAAAAAA! WHAAAAAAA! i'm going to hold my breath and turn blue now!WHAAAAAA! WHAAAAAAAAAAAAA!"


the white house is at fault here. not the salahis... that friggin social person b*tch at the white house who was in communication with the salahis should be the one being charged here.. and not just for letting someone slip in.. but for potentially causing a national disaster. i wouldn't just fire her, but i would put her in a federal prison for 6 months.

Posted by: AuthoritativeAuthoritarian | January 21, 2010 12:20 AM | Report abuse

Consternation wrote, " "You have shown affrontery here," Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Calif) thundered at the state dinner-crashing couple.

It is spelled "effrontery" and yes they were.


hey ace.. lungren SAID the word.. he didn't pronounce it... you idiot.

Consternation says, "what?"

i called you a jerk....

Consternation says, "what?"

i said i called you a jerk....

Consternation says, "what?"

LOL.. never mind. go back to sleep.

Posted by: AuthoritativeAuthoritarian | January 21, 2010 12:33 AM | Report abuse

and of course those totally aware will see my obvious and horrendous slip-up in my previous post.. i feel *sooooo* ashamed!


but if you don't? then as wayne from wayne's world would say, "party on!"

Posted by: AuthoritativeAuthoritarian | January 21, 2010 12:41 AM | Report abuse

It seems as if they're living the "high life" with no visible means of support, except for a fake charity.

Posted by: postfan1 | January 21, 2010 4:03 AM | Report abuse

Oh, thank goodness.... I was afraid I'd have to go a full day without an installment of the Salahi story. I can always depend on the Post to help me out. Did anyone really expect these morons to say anything substantive at the hearing yesterday? They wouldn't even answer the question "Are you HERE today?" Even I had to laugh at that one.... all we got was a lesson about the Constitution, specifically the 5th Amendment. These people are so slimy..... are you SURE they don't work for Danny Snyder?

Posted by: Fairfaxresident3 | January 21, 2010 6:40 AM | Report abuse

"America's #1 White Trash Grifter Couple"

Posted by: Client-9 | January 21, 2010 7:35 AM | Report abuse

No wonder "the news" isn't credible anymore when a great publication like the Post wastes time on this nonsense.

Says something worse that Congress is getting involved in this. I guess we've solved health care, poverty, education, crime and war, if this is what our "leaders" spend their days with. Pathetic.

Vote every incumbent out in November.

Posted by: tohara1 | January 21, 2010 8:49 AM | Report abuse

This Salahis so called "DC" couple, remind me of the Balloon boy, thinking they are smarter than everyone else. Sammy6l and Judithclaire are correct, their problems are just beginning & her "white blankie" will really be needed. A haughty woman; pride before the fall.

Posted by: victoria1947 | January 21, 2010 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Just stop the hemming and hawing. The government employees who let them through even though they weren't on the list should be fired and the Salahis should be in jail. When they got to the gate, they knew they weren't on the list, regardless of the mess that happened before they got there. If they were ugly or non-white, they would not have been given the same consideration at the gate. Lock 'em up. Stop being scared to put these people away. This was not a casual mistake.

Posted by: lidiworks1 | January 21, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Tareq & Michaele--

The gift that keeps on giving.

Posted by: LAWPOOL | January 21, 2010 2:02 PM | Report abuse

I don't think this is a waste of time at all.

These people are scamming grifters, and I would love to see them be made an example of. I am hoping that Octomom is next.

I am frustrated by some of the comments I see here. Some people seem to justify the Salahis' actions by attacking the zpresident, Congress, the Secret Service, or Democrats in general.

These are separate issues. No matter how you feel about the government, these two are deceitful, low-life people who have caused a lot of grief with their various scams.

Throw the book at them, get the IRS on their backs, and encourage everyone they've cheated to sue them.

Start by taking Michaele's hair extensions and that white Snuggie she's wearing.

Posted by: Hippo3 | January 23, 2010 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: at0165 | January 23, 2010 7:10 PM | Report abuse

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