America’s most notorious gatecrashers want to apologize to President and Mrs. Obama for any troubles they caused by sneaking into a state dinner. They also want Congress and the media to apologize to them.
“The storm of media,” his wife, Michaele Salahi, offered.
“The storm of media,” he agreed. “We’re sorry for what this created for the president and the first lady. Absolutely.”
The Salahis were talking about six months ago, when they went from obscurity to a very long 15 minutes of fame by slipping through several layers of security to crash the Obamas’ first White House state dinner, in honor of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Not only did the couple get into the posh bash; Michaele got to meet the president, and the couple posed for pictures with Vice President Joe Biden. Afterward, they were summoned before Congress. They remain under investigation by the Department of Homeland Security, which hasn’t decided whether to charge them with a crime, and, if so, what crime to charge them with.
The Salahis say it was a total coincidence that the limo in which they were riding last week was stopped after trying to turn into a park across from the White House on the night of another state dinner, this one for President Felipe Calderon of Mexico. They repeated to Lauer their explanation that they were on their way to a dinner party with friends at a nearby restaurant, a claim corroborated by other guests and he restaurant at which the dinner was held.
The traffic stop thrust the couple back in the spotlight, a position they appear to have little objection to occupying. When they were stopped, they had a camera crew in tow, reportedly from “Inside Edition.” They had also been followed by a camera crew while preparing for their visit to the November state dinner.
The Salahis, who often finish each other’s sentences, would not say who the camera crews were working for. “We’re not allowed to talk about a lot of things that happened that night. We signed non-disclosures,” Tareq told Lauer.
In a recent video appearance on RadarOnline, the Salahis, who own a Virginia winery, seemed to want an apology from the White House.
“It would be nice if somebody apologized to us," Tareq Salahi told the gossip site, suggesting that once he and his wife got into the state dinner without an invitation, they should have been asked to stay. “I'd still welcome anybody to my house or the winery, and be gracious,” he said.
‘Series of misunderstandings’
But on Tuesday, the couple denied to Lauer ever asking for an apology from the White House. Tareq Salahi said the people who should apologize are the congressional representatives who made fun of them, and the media that camped outside their home.
“I was very troubled with the way the media was treating us, the way the media was coming to our house, going through our cars, looking at the registration, really invading our privacy. And being prejudged by members of Congress before the hearing even got started,” Tareq said. “I wanted some sort of apology by the media for the way they treated us or by members of Congress calling us things before we even had a chance to even go to Congress.”
They also think it’s time to close the investigation into their gate-crashing. They continue to insist they were invited to the dinner by Pentagon official Michele Jones, who did communicate with them about the party, but ultimately did not secure them an invitation.
Still, while she was getting her hair done the day of the November dinner, Michaele told a hairdresser she had an invitation and it was in her car. Why, Lauer asked, did she lie about having an invitation?
“I was asked to say that to go along with something,” she said, adding that the stylist was told to ask her that question by a television producer. She and her husband said confidentiality agreements preclude them from saying more.
The bottom line is that it’s all been a colossal tempest in a teapot, the Salahis seemed to feel.
“It’s been a series of misunderstandings over six months,” Michaele said. “Recently we saw Vice President Biden and President Obama speak at the correspondents’ dinner and joke about us. That’s why we decided to come today; we thought if they could joke about it, maybe it’s time everyone moved forward.”
If the file is finally closed on that episode, it doesn’t necessarily mean the end of the Salahis’ 15 minutes. There are hot rumors that Michaele will be one of the women spotlighted on an upcoming extension of Bravo’s popular “Real Housewives” reality-TV franchise, “The Real Housewives of Washington, D.C.”
What about it, Lauer asked.
“We have to wait and see what happens,” Michaele said.
“We’re not allowed to talk anything about a series or anything. We’ve been strongly told,” Tareq said.
Before he could finish, his wife picked up for him, adding,” by a lot of people not to talk about a lot of different things.”