In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Party Crashers: Who Are Michaele And Tareq Salahi?

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Newscom / Dana Bowden

They own a winery and are heavily involved with the U.S. Polo Team, and they managed to get formally announced at the White House Wednesday night, before posing happily with Vice President Joe Biden and Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. (They also met President Obama in the receiving line.)

The Secret Service today admitted "failing" to screen the couple, who did not appear on the guest list, saying in a statement they are embarrassed about the situation.

Secret Service agents reportedly visited their Virginia winery and the couple also reportedly has financial trouble.

The Salahi lawyer has told news outlets they did not crash the event and they plan to address the issue in an interview with Larry King Monday night.

TPM has spoken today to people who have interacted with the Salahi couple, and those sources say the couple loves the limelight. They find out where the hot social scene is buzzing and show up, dressed to the nines.

They've posed with politicians and celebrities (even interviewing hip-hop's will.i.am) and have shown up at more-and-more D.C. events as buzz builds over the new Real Housewives cast.

The couple claims Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) and Justice Anthony Kennedy were speakers at their 2003 wedding, though TPM has not been able to confirm that detail. (Warner appears in photos on their winery Web site.)

Gawker speculated as to whether the couple's ties to the Indian embassy had something to do with how they ended up at the dinner, but Rahul Chhabra, a spokesman, strongly denies that possibility.

"Neither the embassy nor anyone from the embassy was involved in any way in their getting into the White House. Nor did we request any invitation for them," Chhabra told TPMDC today.

We've called and emailed the Salahis for comment - and we'll update you if we hear back.

The news also percolates as the White House prepares for a busy season of holiday parties for diplomats, government employees and members of the press.

Late Update: Evan takes a sample of the celebrities and politicians the Salahi couple has met along the way.

Friday night document dump update: The White House releases a photo of Obama meeting Michaele Salahi.