December 8th, 2009
07:35 PM ET
10 months ago

Attorney: Salahis prepared to invoke Fifth Amendment

ALT TEXT

The House Homeland Security committee invited the Salahis to attend a December 3 hearing, but they declined to attend. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Washington (CNN) - The Virginia couple who slipped through White House security and shook hands with President Barack Obama will invoke the Fifth Amendment, which protects against self-incrimination, if subpoenaed to testify to Congress, according to a letter from the couple's lawyer.

The House Homeland Security Committee is scheduled to vote Wednesday on whether to subpoena Tareq and Michaele Salahi to answer questions about how they gained entry to the White House on November 24 despite not being on the guest list to attend that night's State Dinner for the prime minister of India.

A lawyer for the Salahis sent a letter to the committee Tuesday saying the Salahis will not testify because of a pending federal investigation by the U.S. attorney in Washington, and because of statements made by some members of Congress about the Salahis last week.

The letter from lawyer Stephen Best said, "The Salahis must contend not only with vilification by the press, but also with a treacherous legal environment that threatens criminal exposure."

The letter said the Salahis have cooperated with the U.S. Secret Service during its investigation.

"They have provided documentation, including telephone records and copies of emails with a White House official, to the investigating agents," the letter stated.

The letter contained signed declarations by each of the Salahis saying, "I hereby respectfully invoke my constitutional right given the legally hazardous environment before me."

The same committee invited the Salahis to attend a December 3 hearing, but they declined to attend.

Cameras captured images of an empty table with name cards on it to represent the absent couple.

Their attorney wrote the committee asking that the Salahis not be force to take the Fifth Amendment in a public hearing, saying that would "result in an unnecessary media spectacle."

The letter attributed quotes about the couple and their situation to some members of Congress.

District of Columbia Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, a Democrat, is quoted in the letter as calling the Salahis "practiced con-artists who bamboozled the Secret Service and perhaps others as they conned their way past
all required gate keepers....Clearly they were outlaws before they crashed the White House."

The letter also said Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, called the Salahis "the perpetrators."


Filed under: Homeland Security • White House
soundoff (35 Responses)
  1. Eleanor, Port Orchard, WA

    These two should be in prison! Along with the WH social secretary who was off enjoying herself instead of attending to her duties, and every single one of the Secret Service guards who failed to apprehend them! This is outrageous!! If this had been the Bush WH, they'd have found themselves in Gitmo! Well then...so be it. To Gitmo with them!

    December 8, 2009 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  2. Stu

    If they didn't commit, or aren't charged with a criminal offense, they cannot invoke their rights. Sorry, not gonna fly.

    December 8, 2009 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  3. Tina

    Why doesn't Congress force Obama's social secretary to testify?

    December 8, 2009 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  4. m smith

    they should be prosecuted. This is not a reality show and and they knew better. Im tired of the 15 minute wonders who seek nothing but fame at other peoples expense. This was a serious breach and they knew wht they where doing.

    December 8, 2009 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  5. MP

    A bit late for the fifth. The pictures they posted and their interviews have said it all.They have traded on being in the WH. Now they invoke?

    December 8, 2009 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  6. gary davis harbor oregon

    they should have been pickup right after it was found they had entered with out permission, and placed in jail . and the crew that filmed it and then pick up the producers and put them in jail too :)

    December 8, 2009 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  7. Tracie

    Wow! It's really sad. Why does it always have to be something negative? These people have been signaled out. I don't understand my country sometimes. Did their appearance really cause a stir, or is this country still as racist as they have been since the beginning of time? If these people had been americans, would the reaction have still been the same? I don't get it.

    December 8, 2009 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  8. Bob

    Oh " The games people play now " For fifteen minutes of " Fame " Steer Manure.

    December 8, 2009 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  9. Tommygunn

    They are entitled to the 5th Admendment. That might even be best in their case.

    But after it is all said and done give them either a HEFTY FINE and/or THROW THEM in JAIL....and move this out of the headlines....

    END OF STORY....

    December 8, 2009 11:54 pm at 11:54 pm |
  10. Donkey Party

    At the very minimum, they should be charged with criminal trespassing and fraud. What is the problem?

    December 9, 2009 01:45 am at 1:45 am |
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