Michaele and Tareq Salahi didn’t look out of place at Tuesday’s White House state dinner. They were all smiles as they rubbed shoulders with Vice President Joe Biden, White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, Washington Mayor Adrian Fenty and CBS News anchor Katie Couric.
No one suspected the Salahis were a couple of brazen party crashers — and wannabe reality TV stars.
The Secret Service is looking into its security procedures after determining that the Virginia couple managed to slip into Tuesday night’s event even though they were not on the guest list, agency spokesman Ed Donovan said.
President Barack Obama was never in any danger because the Salahis went through the same security screening for weapons as the 300-plus people actually invited to the dinner honoring Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Donovan said.
Donovan confirmed the identities of the couple. The Washington Post, which first reported on their evening out, said the Salahis were well-known in the Virginia horse-country set and were being considered for the Bravo reality TV show “Real Housewives of D.C.”
In an interview with CBS’ “Early Show” in September, Michaele Salahi said, “President Obama has made it very accessible for anyone to visit the White House, so that’s like a big thing right now.” The CBS interview was part of a segment on potential candidates for “Real Housewives of D.C.” but never was aired.
The Secret Service learned about the security breach Wednesday after a media inquiry prompted by the Salahis’ online boasts about having attended the private event, Donovan said.
One of the many photos from the dinner posted on Michaele Salahi’s Facebook page shows the couple with a smiling Biden. In other photos, they appear alone or together with Emanuel, Fenty, Couric, Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., and three Marines in their dress blues.
Donovan would not comment on whether the couple had been contacted by the Secret Service, how long they were on the White House grounds or other details of the investigation.
The Post said uninvited guests who got in could face a potential trespassing charge unless someone from inside the White House staff slipped them in.
Donovan would not comment on possible legal violations.
The agency’s Office of Professional Responsibility was reviewing what occurred. An initial finding indicated that a checkpoint did not follow proper procedures to ensure the two were on the guest list, Donovan said.
“It’s important to note that they went through all the security screenings — the magnetometer screening — just like all the other guests did,” Donovan said. And, he added, Obama and others under Secret Service protection had their usual security details with them.