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For once, the silent White House gatecrashers

The Salahis could plead the Fifth all they wanted in a congressional hearing on Wednesday. Wasn’t going to protect them from a blistering bipartisan tongue-lashing.

world Updated: Jan 22, 2010 00:13 IST

The Salahis could plead the Fifth all they wanted in a congressional hearing on Wednesday. Wasn’t going to protect them from a blistering bipartisan tongue-lashing.

“You have shown effrontery here,” Republican Dan Lungren, California, thundered at the state-dinner-crashing couple. “Time is the only thing we have of value, and I can’t believe how much of ours you’re wasting,” chided Republican Chris Carney.

“I would infer from your actions today that you don’t feel any regret about the problems you’ve caused,” scolded Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy of Ohio.

Zing! Plus, a lot of stagy questions through which congressfolk hinted scorn for what they portrayed as the Salahis’ fame-seeking, authority-mocking and brazen-Facebook-posting ways. It did a lot to enliven a hearing at which no actual new information was divulged about the horse-country duo’s mysterious November 24 appearance at the White House.

Which everyone knew going into it. When subpoenaed last month by the Committee on Homeland Security, Tareq and Michaele Salahi announced that they would assert their right to not answer questions that might incriminate them.

Though they have not been charged, a federal grand jury is probing possible lies to federal agents in the matter. The couple also declined to talk to the committee in a closed-door session. Just as well, said ranking minority member Rep. Peter King of New York: “They’re not going to have state secrets.” King has agitated for White House officials such as social secretary Desiree Rogers to testify about the security lapses; the White House has declined. Without them, the committee was just “going through the motions,” King complained.

Still: It was both a media-crazed photo op for the couple and a chance for Congress to chew them out.

Tareq appeared in a dark suit; his wife looked classically Michaele-icious in a short white skirt-suit, black ankle boots and a white fur-trimmed wrap. He did most of the talking.

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