A 3rd uninvited guest got into White House dinner
WASHINGTON (AP) — A third uninvited guest made his way into the White House state dinner for India’s prime minister in November, the Secret Service said Monday.
As the Secret Service was reviewing how an attention-hungry couple — Tareq and Michaele Salahi — got into the dinner without being on the guest list, officials discovered that a third person made it through security without an invitation as well. The Secret Service said the man — whom they would not identify — did not get close to the president or the first lady.
The Secret Service is investigating the Salahis, and the Justice Department is looking into whether they broke any laws. The Secret Service said the other man they just learned of is now under investigation as well.
The man traveled to the White House from the hotel where the Indian delegation was staying. The Secret Service said the man arrived with members of that delegation. But he was not in the Secret Service’s database of people prescreened and approved to attend the event. Part of the security screening is a criminal background check that the Secret Service does before a guest enters the White House. The Salahis and the man traveling with the Indian delegation did not go through that background check.
But the Secret Service said all three uninvited guests went through other screening, such as metal detectors, before the event.
The man is a U.S. citizen and was with a group of Indian business leaders before the state dinner, according to a State Department official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to speak publicly about the investigation. The Indian embassy asked the State Department to transport the group to the White House dinner, the official said, adding that it’s rare for the agency to provide these services to delegations visiting the United States in a nonofficial capacity.
State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said the agency has reviewed the incident and already made changes for how it handles foreign delegations.
Subpoenas have been issued for the Salahis to testify before Congress on the Nov. 24 incident. Through their attorney, the Salahis have said they will invoke their Fifth Amendment right to refuse to testify against themselves.
Three uniformed Secret Service officers have been put on administrative leave because of the security breach. President Barack Obama acknowledged that the system did not work as it should have, but he said the episode hasn’t shaken his confidence in his protectors.
Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan has said the security breach is his agency’s fault but that the president was never at risk.
Associated Press writer Matt Lee contributed to this report.