The D.C.-area couple who crashed President Obama’s first White House state bash has triggered a congressional investigation into the embarrassing security breach.
Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), who chairs the House Committee on Homeland Security, has promised to get to the bottom of the controversy. Tareq and Michaele Salahi, the couple who glided into the White House without proper clearance or an invitation to the dinner, say they believed they were authorized to be there.
Initially, the Salahis were scheduled to testify before the committee. Thompson said they had declined.
"Late this evening, I was informed by the Salahis' counsel, that their clients, Tareq and Michaele Salahi, may not appear before the Committee tomorrow as requested," Thompson said in a statement released Wednesday evening. "If the Salahis are absent from tomorrow's hearing, the Committee is prepared to move forward with subpoenas to compel their appearance."
Also in the hot seat over the breach is the U.S. Secret Service, the agency responsible for protecting the president. Obama has faced more threats against his life than any other president, according to law enforcement officials.
Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan is also scheduled to testify before the committee, CNN reports. White House Social Secretary was also slated to appear, but administration officials have told CNN that she will not.
Speaking on NBC’s “Today” show on Tuesday, the Salahis denied crashing the dinner.
"We were invited, not crashers. And there isn't anyone that would have the audacity or the poor behavior to do that," Tareq Salahi told NBC.
However, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs rebutted that assertion. "If your name is not on an invitation list and you show up, in my book, that's called crashing," he told CNN. "The president was concerned about the security breach here, as was the Secret Service. The Secret Service is evaluating their procedures."