White House gate-crashers tight-lipped as committee probes mystery appearance
Published 21/01/2010 | 05:00
White House gate-crashers Tareq and Michaele Salahi invoked their US constitutional right against self-incrimination yesterday, refusing to answer a house committee's questions about their appearance at a state dinner for Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
The jet-setting couple repeatedly said they were remaining silent on advice of their lawyer, but that did not prevent members of the Homeland Security Committee from peppering them with questions about how they got through secret service checkpoints on November 24.
A US jury is investigating the Salahis to learn how they got past the secret service without invitations and shook hands with President Barack Obama.
The Salahis' attorney, Stephen Best, said the couple believed they were invited to an arrival ceremony for the prime minister.
Members of the committee repeatedly told the Salahis that the safety of the president was not a joke, although some of the questions from frustrated committee members were less than serious.
The couple said they would be willing to testify after the criminal investigation is finished.
They could be charged under statutes that prohibit making false statements to federal agencies or using false pretences to enter federal property.
Best said his clients "maintain their absolute innocence and have not committed any criminal wrongdoing whatsoever."