E-Mails Show Salahis Never Got White House State Dinner Invite From Pentagon
Couple had claimed Pentagon official told them they could attend the event.
WASHINGTON, Dec. 2, 2009— -- E-mails between the so-called state dinner crashers and a Pentagon official indicate the official was trying to get them in to the White House event, but did not succeed, according to the email chain obtained by ABC News.
Read the full text of the Salahi e-mails HERE.
In the emails, Pentagon official Michele S. Jones told Tareq and Michaele Salahi that she was trying to get them access to the White House grounds, but never said she had received approval, contradicting the couple's claim today that they had emails proving they had been invited to the Nov. 24 gala.
In the last email from Jones, sent at 8:46 a.m., Nov. 24, she said she still had not gotten them tickets.
"The arrival ceremony (was scheduled to be outdoors) was canceled due to inclement weather," Jones' email said. "They are having a very small one inside the WH, very limited space. I am still working on tickets for tonight's dinner. I will call or e-mail as soon as I get word one way or another."
In an email sent at 1:03 a.m., Nov. 25, the Salahis wrote that they did not get a cell phone message from Jones because "my cell phone battery died early this evening while we were in D.C. from our country home."
"We ended up going to the gate to check in at 6:30 p.m. to just check, in case it got approved, since we didn't know, and our name was indeed on the list!" they wrote. "We are very grateful, and God bless you. We just got home, and we had a very wonderful evening as you can imagine!"
Appearing on NBC's "Today," the couple said they had been invited and were confident they could prove it.
"I can tell you, we did not party-crash the White House," Tareq Salahi said. "We're going to show you documentation from e-mails that you'll get a chance to see. ... I am certain we're going to be completely exonerated."
The emails support what White House officials said today, when they reiterated to ABC News that the Salahis were not invited, and back up Jones, special assistant to the Secretary of Defense, who flatly denied the Salahis' claim.
"I did not state at any time, or imply that I had tickets for ANY portion of the evening's events," Jones said earlier in a statement. "I specifically stated that they did not have tickets and in fact that I did not have the authority to authorize attendance, admittance or access to any part of the evening's activities. Even though I informed them of this, they still decided to come."
Before ABC News obtained the emails, sources familiar with them emphasized that there is no record that anyone at the White House authorized the Salahis to come.
"What concerns me the most is that someone was able to walk in off the street to a White House event, without the proper credentials, without the proper vetting, and get next to the president," said Bennie Thompson, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.
Thompson said he's hoping to clear up the story in a hearing he's called for Thursday. The head of the secret service and the Salahis have been called to testify.
The Salahis said their lives have been "devastated" by news headlines characterizing them as disingenuous.
"Our lives have been destroyed," said Michaele Salahi. "We were invited -- not crashers -- there isn't anyone that would have the audacity or the poor behavior to do that. The White House is THE house and no one would do that, and certainly not us."
The couple said they were not paid by NBC for the interview.
The Salahis' first television interview since the incident came as new details emerged about the couple's past and their interaction with administration officials in the days leading up to the state dinner.