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Dinner crashers say they won’t testify

Thu., Dec. 3, 2009, midnight

WASHINGTON – White House party crashers Tareq and Michaele Salahi declined an invitation to testify to Congress about their caper at President Barack Obama’s state dinner last week, prompting a quick threat from a lawmaker that they will be forced by subpoena to face questions if they don’t show up today.

House lawmakers want answers in a hearing about how the couple managed to sail through security checkpoints while their names were not on a list of approved guests for the dinner. But their publicist, Mahogany Jones, said in a statement on Wednesday that the couple had already provided information to two lawmakers as well as the Secret Service and would not come.

That didn’t sit well with Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson, chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, which is holding the hearing.

“The Salahis’ testimony is important to explain how a couple circumvented layers of security at the White House on the evening of a state dinner without causing alarm,” he said in a Wednesday-evening statement.

In addition, the White House is refusing to send its social secretary to the hearing, citing the separation of powers and a tradition of not having White House staff testify to Congress.

Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan agreed to testify.


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