Where Were the White House Bouncers?

Hargraves told Newsweek that for years her focus was to supervise guest lists and clear invitees into the White House. On the night of major events, she was a fixture at the East Gate portico entrance, greeting guests, vouching for those who may have inadvertently been left off the list and turning away those who were not supposed to be there.

A former White House official said it was Hargraves who would "input all the names, take all the responses, give them to the calligraphers who would address the invites, do the place cards."

"On game day she was a key link to Secret Service because she was posted at the East Portico with them, because she was the most intimately knowledgeable of the list," this official said.

Rogers has said that nobody from her staff was working at the gates and check points last Tuesday night when the Salahis made it past security without an invitation. The couple spent up to two hours on the grounds, making it all the way to the Blue Room to shake hands with the president and Indian prime minister.

White House Fixing Blame on the Secret Service

One former White House official said that the management of guests at a large White House function like a state dinner is "huge, critical" and the social secretary's office has the most intimate knowledge of who the guests are because they have been working with the various staffs and departments to formulate the list.

There are occasions when an invited guest can inadvertently be left off the official list at the door, but at that point the social office and the Secret Service would work together to resolve any discrepancies.

"I can only speak to past practice and history will tell you that a name can inadvertently fall off a list, which is why a social office staffer who knows the list most intimately is helpful to [Secret Service] on the scene," a former official said.

The Secret Service told ABC News that they -- and they alone -- are responsible for what happened Tuesday night. They say it would have been easy for a guard to call and verify a guest in question, but that call never was never made.

Today the White House seemed to fix the blame on the Secret Service.

"The relay didn't happen because somebody was or wasn't there," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said. "The relay didn't happen because nobody picked up the phone to relay the information."

Washington columnist Carol Joynt told ABC News that is shared fault between the Secret Service and the social office.

"There are people who should fall on their swords in both," Joynt said.

Rogers was at the dinner, but inside mingling with guests. Walking past a crowd of reporters who were gathered for the guest arrivals, Rogers paused to say which designer she was wearing that night (Comme Des Garcons).

A former first lady chief of staff ABC News spoke with could not recall a social secretary attending a dinner rather than working it.

"The only occasion that I know of that a social secretary sat down as a guest is when there is a last minute emergency cancellation and the social secretary was called on to fill in and sit down -- again part of the job to make things go smoothly," this official said.

Rogers declined a request by ABC News for an interview.

Who Is Desiree Rogers?

"A state dinner, especially the first state dinner of this administration, is your Super Bowl and the social secretary's job is a job and the job is to be there to sort of be the first hello after security," Joynt said.

Page
  • 1
  • |
  • 2
  • |
  • 3
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...