December 2nd, 2009
04:18 PM ET
3 months ago

WH: Social secretary will not testify before Congress

Washington (CNN) – White House social secretary Desiree Rogers will not by testifying at Thursday's congressional hearing about the recent White House security breach, Robert Gibbs said Wednesday.

"Obviously there's an ongoing assessment and investigation by the Secret Service" into the breach that occurred during the Obama administration's first state dinner, the White House press secretary told reporters in his daily briefing, "We are working with and ready to work with anybody that has questions on that."

But, Gibbs added, "based on separation of powers, staff here don't go to testify in front of Congress. She will not be testifying in front Congress tomorrow."

Related: Lawmakers want answers on 'party-crashing' drama


In a break from the practice that the White House used on the night of the state dinner, Gibbs said that the White House had its own staff in place at a security check point Tuesday evening when visitors came to the White House campus for a holiday gathering.

Gibbs also told reporters Wednesday that no concerns about Rogers' performance had been raised with the president prior to the controversy surrounding the breach at the state dinner. The White House social office, which is run by Rogers, has done "remarkable work" in planning events at the White House. "The first family is quite pleased with her performance," said Gibbs.

The House Committee on Homeland Security is set to hold a hearing Thursday about how a married couple who were not on the official list of attendees managed to get past White House security into the state dinner.

As of Wednesday, the couple, Tareq and Michaele Salahi, have declined the committee's invitation to testify, according to the committee's chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson.

Mark Sullivan, the director of the Secret Service, has agreed to testify, according to the committee. In a statement issued soon after the breach came to light, Sullivan said the Secret Service was "deeply concerned and embarrassed" by the circumstances surrounding the state dinner.

During the previous administration, Bush aides Karl Rove and Harriet Miers tried to resist calls from Congress to testify about the firing of several U.S. attorneys. At the time, the Bush administration relied on separation of powers, the idea that the Executive branch headed by the president and Congress are co-equal branches of government who cannot compel one another to act, and on executive privilege, the idea that the advice the president receives from his aides is confidential, to try to avoid responding to congressional subpoenas for testimony. After litigation to enforce the congressional subpoenas and after former President George W. Bush was no longer in office, Rove and Miers both ultimately gave depositions to investigators looking into the firings.


Filed under: White House
soundoff (38 Responses)
  1. SocialismBad

    Gee... What happened to the "most transparent presidency in history"???!!! A complete lapse in presidential security when foreign dignitaries are present as well as the VP and the Whitehouse refuses to cooperate??? What are they trying to hide anyways? Maybe the person in charge of social events wasn't qualified? Much like our President!

    December 2, 2009 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  2. ronvan

    Why not? My impression is that the person normally standing at the "check point" to assist the secret service was let go as a "cost cutting" decision. If this is the case then what harm could be done except to aknowledge that in "hindsight" the position should be in place, which if I heard right, has already been done, and that should be the end of that!

    December 2, 2009 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  3. chubby

    If this was former President Bush the lame brained media would be claiming the White House has something to hide. As it is, it will not be reported by the media. This so called President has more flaws than could possibly be reported but it does not matter because everything will be covered up by the media.

    December 2, 2009 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  4. D. Tree

    The Secret Service is already handling the matter, Congress has more important things to do than this!

    December 2, 2009 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  5. Party Purity will never bring Political Power!

    It is the responsibility of the SS to guard the President from harm, NOT the WH social director, and when there is the smallest doubt, do not admit!

    End of story.

    December 2, 2009 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  6. Fred in Illinois

    Hmmm... "separation of powers" when it doesn't suit the Democrats (and applies to George W. Bush) is bad. "Separation of powers" when used by the Obama administration is good.

    Hypocracy I know your name...

    December 2, 2009 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  7. Hey Big Spender

    Gibbs is a tool and a liar. The White House knows everything being reported about 'the crashers'; the only thing they don't know is how the hell they got into the state dinner.

    December 2, 2009 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  8. Right Leaning Independent

    Gibbs always gets testy when the questioning gets tough. He is much like the rest of the adminstration and does not like dissent or hard questioning. He prefers to lay blame on previous administrations and there just really is no way to do that this time....

    December 2, 2009 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  9. inofritzn

    Well maybe social security should testify :)

    December 2, 2009 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  10. Really

    I agree with get a life...also, if you notice Ms. Ryan does not touch anything that does not concern minority this or that..she is not a real journalist..just an affirmative action hiree

    December 2, 2009 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  11. Diana

    Why won't she testify? She could end this – were they or weren't they invited? I'm tired of this and she could shut the entire thing off by saying whether or not she messed up.

    December 2, 2009 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  12. No Cronyism

    Here's the latest one "under the bus". Stay tuned. Just what qualifications did she have other than being a close friend of the Obamas. Bad move, Michelle.!

    December 2, 2009 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  13. Hammerer

    If she testifies congress may find that she is no more able to do her job than her boss.
    Maybe all that she needs to say is that the "Obama Brand" is in the White House. That should give all a clue to the methods used by the staff.

    December 2, 2009 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  14. Orange

    Why isn't Howard Dean clamoring for these Administration officials to testify before Congress?

    December 2, 2009 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  15. Bob in Pa

    Sounds like maybe they found the guilty party already.

    December 2, 2009 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  16. Ralph

    But, Gibbs added, "based on separation of powers, staff here don't go to testify in front of Congress. She will not be testifying in front Congress tomorrow."

    Mister Gibbs, Why didn't ya just go ahead and say: "We are the Whitehouse so screw you. We are above the law!"

    December 2, 2009 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  17. Rickster

    More of the famed "Obama administration transparency"

    December 2, 2009 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  18. JK Ashburn, VA

    Certainly Congress must have better things to do than this. On the other hand, maybe if they focus on the useless and mundane, they'll do less damage to the country.

    December 2, 2009 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  19. Chris

    Gibbs always has a smirk on his face, or is never able to comment without a chuckle. Is this guy serious!?

    December 2, 2009 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  20. Mike in MN

    Cover up. Someone is lying.

    December 2, 2009 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  21. John D.

    This guy is the most arrogant ass to ever hold the position. It's almost like you expect him to stomp his feet and pound his fists because someone is questioning the White House and rightfully so by the way. The whole administration is fiasco. There is an ounce of class in the whole bunch of the lying, tax evading misfits.

    December 2, 2009 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  22. Mike

    She was probably slipped a $20 to let them in, or perhaps there's something to those "so-called" emails?

    What did ole blondie and her hubby know?

    December 2, 2009 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  23. Scott, Tucson

    More of obama HOPE and CHANGE in action I see.

    December 2, 2009 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  24. AJ

    There are really better things to worry about. The Obamas seem reluctant to deal with the situtation so why is anyone making an issue out if it? It's their neck on the line. If they want to protect their social secretary who was mingling with with WH guests intead of doing her job, its none of my busiess. My question is, why would any of the guests want to mingle with the help?

    December 2, 2009 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  25. John D.

    This guy is the most arrogant ass to ever hold the position. It's almost like you expect him to stomp his feet and pound his fists because someone is questioning the White House and rightfully so by the way. The whole administration is fiasco. There isn't an ounce of class in the whole bunch of the lying, tax evading misfits.

    December 2, 2009 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
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