White House Crashers Repeatedly Take the Fifth at Congressional Hearing
Tareq Salahi and Michaele Salahi
White House party crashers Tareq and Michaela Salahi appeared before Congress Wednesday, invoking their Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination and refusing to testify.
The Salahis would not answer questions in front of the House Homeland Security Committee about how they made it past the Secret Service and into a Nov. 24 White House state dinner uninvited.
A federal grand jury is also investigating how the Salahis were able to shake hands and take photos with Vice President Joe Biden and President Barack Obama, among others.
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"On advice of counsel, I respectfully invoke my right to remain silent and decline to answer your question," both Tareq and Michaela Salahi answered in-sync numerous times during the hearing, according to The New York Times.
The Salahis received an earful from lawmakers present at the hearing. Rep. Daniel Lungren even brought up their connection to Bravo's Real Housewives franchise. Michaela was under consideration for the Washington, D.C., installment at the time and was filmed getting ready for the event.
"To have engaged in conduct that undercut the seriousness of our role to protect the president as some sort of reality TV stunt is an extraordinary affront to the seriousness of the issues that are before us today," Lungren said. "The Constitution protects fools. It protects stupidity. It protects errant thought."
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Rep. Bill Pascrell sounded annoyed by the couple's repeated invocation of the Fifth Amendment. He asked Tareq if he could even answer whether he was present at Wednesday's hearing. "You got an answer from your attorney on that?" Pascrell said.
Pascrell then told the Salahis he hoped they would be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, according to the Los Angeles Times. The couple's attorney, Stephen A. Best, proclaimed the hearing a "charade" and a "public flogging ... The Salahis are innocent and have committed no criminal act."
Best added: "They believed 100 percent in their hearts that they were invited."
Tareq Salahi told the committee he and his wife would not testify — even in a closed-door session — because they were offered no legal protection, The New York Times reported. He also said he and his wife would cooperate with lawmakers once the criminal investigation was done.