White House Crashers Met the President

Nov 27, 2009 6:14pm

ABC News' Yunji de Nies and Jake Tapper report:

It turns out the couple who crashed the White House state dinner got a lot more access than previously thought.  Michaele and Tareq Salahi met with President Barack Obama in a receiving line before guests sat down to dinner.  The exchange was brief. The couple also greeted the Indian prime minister, the guest of honor that night. It is standard protocol at a state dinner for the president to introduce guests in the receiving line to the visiting head of state.

The White House released this photo of Michaele Salahi meeting President Obama on its Flickr site: The White House would not comment on the meeting between the reality-tv-seeking couple and the leader of the free world, other than to confirm it happened.  White House spokesman Nick Shapiro said the Secret Service has the confidence of the president.

“The United States Secret Service said they made a mistake and they are taking action to identify exactly what happened and they will take the appropriate measures pending the results of their investigation,” Shapiro said. 

Indeed, tonight in a written statement Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan said his agency is "concerned and embarrassed" for allowing the Virginia couple to slip through their security.

"The preliminary findings of our internal investigation have determined established protocols were not followed at an initial checkpoint, verifying that two individuals were on the guest list," Sullivan said, "Although these individuals went through magnetometers and other levels of screening, they should have been prohibited from entering the event entirely. That failing is ours."

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