Memo: White House should have helped more in dinner security

A top Obama administration official said the White House did not do everything it could to assist the Secret Service at last month's state dinner where two uninvited guests were able to gain entrance and have their pictures taken with the president.

White House deputy chief of staff Jim Messina said in a memo that Secret Service agents "failed" to adequately adhere to established security protocols, but Messina said the White House should have done more to help.


White House press secretary Robert Gibbs appeared to be placing much of the blame on the Secret Service earlier this week even though he said President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaThe battle of two Cubas Obama on the death of George Floyd: 'This shouldn't be "normal" in 2020 America' Democrats gear up to hit GOP senators on DACA MORE has full confidence in his security.

The Secret Service ordered an investigation into how the couple -- Michaele and Tareq Salahi -- were able to gain entrance to the Obamas' first state dinner and mingle with the president and high-ranking officials.

The White House social secretary's office has come under fire for reportedly changing the policy used by previous administrations of have a representative at the gate to clarify when there is confusion about a guest's name being omitted.

Messina said in the memo, which was distributed to reporters by the White House, that the White House has established new procedures based on the preliminary findings of that investigation.

Messina's memo states that the president believes that Secret Service agents put their lives on the line in defending Obama and his family, and "we need to do whatever we can to help them succeed in their mission."

"We believe White House staff can play a role in streamlining this process as a courtesy to our guests and to assist the Secret Service agents who keep us safe," Messina said.

He added: "After reviewing our actions, it is clear that the White House did not do everything we could have done to assist the United States Secret Service in ensuring that only invited guests enter the complex."

The new policy laid out by Messina includes ensuring that a representative of the social secretary's office is physically present at the checkpoint where guests arrive and guests will be "checked off the list" by both the representative and an agent will make sure all guests "have been properly cleared."

Guests who aren't on the list "will be assisted by White House staff present at the checkpoint for appropriate resolution."