There's lots going on on the Hill today, including hearings on the failed Christmas Day terrorist plot and the Fort Hood review. But, yes, also up there today are the Salahis, the party-crashing couple. They were subpoenaed to appear before the House Homeland Security Committee.
But they're reiterating that they'll plead the Fifth.
NBC's Shawna Thomas sends along on a statement from the Salahis' attorney:
"We also understand the Committee received our attorneys' letter and our attached declaration indicating that, based on advice of counsel, we intended to assert our Constitutional Right to remain silent and decline to answer any questions if we were to be supoenaed to appear before the committee.
"We find it unfortunate that the Committee nonetheless required us to appear in person to invoke our Fifth Amendment Right under the United States Constitution to remain silent, even though it is against the Ethical Rules of the DC Bar to do so. Indeed Congressman Waxman chastised this exact conduct in another hearing. We reiterate that, on advice of counsel, we respectfully invoke our right to remain silent and will decline to answer any questions surrounding the circumstances around the events of November 24, 2009."
*** UPDATE *** NBC's Andrew Gross has more on the hearing:
Party crashers Tareq and Michaele Salahi refused to answer any relevant questions posed by members of the the House Homeland Security Committee at a hearing today on the security breach at the White House State Dinner in November.
Chairman Thompson said his committee has an important interest in how two ordinary people were able to defeat the White House security. Ranking member King blasted the White House for not making social secretary Desiree Rogers available to the committee for questioning. That was pretty much the breakdown on party lines -- the Democrats blamed the Salahis for their actions, and the Republicans hammered away at the White House for enabling this whole mess in the first place.
To the hearings... For their part, the Salahi's were peppered with questions about being invited, being questioned by the secret service at the gate, etc.. and to all they took the Fifth. But, Michaele Salahi did say, "Yes," to a question about whether they would return to the committee and explain everything once the criminal invesitgation against them is completed.
Rep. Souder pointedly asked the committee about the role of the media. "Where is Bravo?" he said. "Where is the company that filmed them? Why isn't NBC here? Was there cooperation in the American media to do a scam?"
The constant invoking of the Fifth seemed to finally get under the skin of at least one member, Rep. Pascrell, who asked with exasperation, "Did you wear a tuxedo? Did you go to the White House? Are you here today? Are you gonna ask your attorney for an answer to that"?
After the hearing, the glam couple hit the stakeout camera outside the hearing room, where their fired-up attorney, Stephen Best, announced that the hearing was a charade and a public flogging and claimed that the committee refused to accept important information about the case. He said his clients are innocent, committed no criminal act and that it was not a stunt, that "they believed in their hearts they were invited to a white house event." He concluded with, "They are proud Americans."
*** UPDATE 2 *** I 'respectfully decline'... MSNBC producer Dan Hosea tallied that The Salahis "respectfully declined" to answer questions from the Committee on Homeland Security at least 32 times. Tareq Salahi "respectfully declined" at least 27 times. (He was interrupted by Pascrell midway through one "respectfully." Michaele "respectfully declined" to answer five times.