December 2nd, 2009
04:18 PM ET
9 years 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. Alexander

    What Gibbs says is not making any sense. If Congress subpoenas White House beurocrats, then they will have no other choice but to testify in front of Congress. Thats Checks and Balances for you. Gibbs, most likely, doesn't know anything about it. This White House has never been and will never be a transparent one. I think that Rogers is ought to testify in front of Congress. I would also subpoena Gibbs.

    December 2, 2009 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  2. single mom

    They pull the "Executive Privilege" card over this?
    Wonder how long before they have a new social secretary?

    December 2, 2009 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  3. victim of the false prophet OBAMA

    when you can't hide under smoke and mirrors this regime has found more magic.

    December 2, 2009 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  4. Emmanuel Goldstein

    Stewart points out the hypocrisy in the Dem's position. Methinks CNN is gonna get a call from Gibbs about that. Someone needs to get back on the MSM reservation.

    December 2, 2009 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  5. MT

    Why not testify... Because the facebook posts made them look bad – or – the couple weren't big enough donors?

    All it takes is money, your name is ALWAYS on the list if you're a "good little" polittical contributor, lobbyist, bank CEO, Arab Oil interest, etc...

    December 2, 2009 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  6. They call me "tater salad"

    The entire Bush administration and White House staff invoked the same privlege and NEVER testified before Congress for anything, so I guess This administration has every right to do it as well....Turnabout is fair play so get over it and move on.............I guess it sux to be you doesn't it!

    December 2, 2009 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  7. Unemployed In Iowa because of Obama

    hiding the Obanana Lies and smoke screen and his dealings with terroist.

    December 2, 2009 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  8. Debby

    Well duh Gibbs they didn't have one of those and they still got in the door you dope.

    December 2, 2009 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  9. impromptu

    Nice work if you can get it. Authority and prestige without any responsibility. She should resign. Her presence will remind
    everyone that President Obama cannot protect himself, using this very argument" security" to justify an Afghan surge.

    December 2, 2009 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  10. Party Purity will never bring Political Power!

    Why not just declare she will not appear to testify before Congress, even if subpoenaed, like Harriet Myers and Karl Rove.

    I think the form chimp-in-chief. called it "executive privilege".

    Remember cons?

    December 2, 2009 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  11. b franklin

    Weren't these the same guys that threw a fit that the Bush Administration invoked speration of powers?

    December 2, 2009 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  12. Joe M

    Mr. AAAAAAA again, count the number of times this guy sayss "AAAAA" in one sentenance..He is trying to think on his feet but he is not that smart..

    December 2, 2009 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  13. Fitz in Texas

    Of course social secretary Desiree Rogers won't be testifying. She's one of Michelle's best friends. Michelle Obama will have someone else take the hit on this one because she's not about to let her friend take the hit, even if it's deserved.

    December 2, 2009 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
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