PUBLISHED: 09:28 EST, 24 October 2013 | UPDATED: 15:11 EST, 24 October 2013
Senator Dick Durbin claimed that a senior Republican House member blew up at President Obama during tense government-shutdown talks
The White House admitted Thursday that it was the source of a phony quote attributed to a top House Republican, who had allegedly told President Obama during a tense Oct. 10 meeting that ‘I cannot even stand to look at you.’
Sen. Dick Durbin, the Senate Majority Whip, claimed in a Facebook post on Sunday that an unnamed GOP lawmaker had delivered the verbal slap in Obama’s face, but everyone involved with the story now says it never happened.
Eighteen Republicans from Congress attended that meeting with the president during a 16-day partial shutdown of the federal government, with the GOP representatives trying to negotiate a solution and Obama insisting that he wouldn’t bargain unless the government was reopened first.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney acknowledged Thursday that ‘there was a miscommunication when we read out that meeting to Senate Democrats and we regret that misunderstanding.’
A ‘read out’ is a brief summary of a meeting provided to journalists or political allies. While reporters typically get sanitized versions, read outs between politicians of the same political party are often more detailed and include some participants’ direct quotes.
The Huffington Post reported Thursday that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid relayed portions of the read out to colleagues during a caucus meeting.
Senate Democrats told the news outlet that White House deputy chief of staff Rob Nabors went further, naming Texas Republican Rep. Pete Sessions as the lawmaker who had allegedly insulted President Obama.
Durbin ran with it, perhaps not knowing the episode never occurred.
Never said it: GOP Rep. Pete Sessions was blamed for telling President Obama that he couldn’t stand the sight of him, but now Democrats are walking that claim back and admitting that the rumor began in the White House
Blindsided? Numerous sources say it never happened, but Senator Dick Durbin’s Facebook wall still claims it did
‘Many Republicans searching for something to say in defense of the disastrous shutdown strategy will say President Obama just doesn’t try hard enough to communicate with Republicans,’ he claimed Sunday on his Facebook page.
‘But in a “negotiation” meeting with the president, one GOP House Leader told the president: “I cannot even stand to look at you.” What are the chances of an honest conversation with someone who has just said something so disrespectful?’
The post was still on Durbin’s Facebook page three hours after Carney admitted the White House had gotten it wrong.
Asked about the senator’s description of the exchange on Wednesday, Carney issued a flat denial.
‘I looked into this and spoke with somebody who was in that meeting, and it did not happen,’ he said during his press briefing on Wednesday.
And a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, who participated in the meeting, seconded Carney’s early statement.
Speaker of the House John Boehner’s spokesmen both said Durbin was repeating a false rumor on Wednesday
MEA CULPA: Carney copped to the WHite House ‘miscommunicating’ with a Democratic Senate leader, which led to the phony quote circulating on Capitol Hill
‘Senator Durbin’s accusation is a serious one, and it appears to have been invented out of thin air,’ said Boehner flack Brendan Buck.
Deputy White House Chief of Staff Rob Nabors is allegedly the official who told Sen. Harry Reid about the phony quote and attributed it to Rep. Pete Sessions
‘The senator should disclose who told him this account of events, retract his reckless allegation immediately, and apologize.’
Durbin spokesman Max Gleischman shot back. ‘Senator Durbin stands by his comments,’ he said Wednesday.
‘The speaker certainly didn’t say that and does not recall anyone else doing so,’ added another Boehner spokesman, Michael Steel.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee slammed Durbin, claiming that he, not GOP members of Congress, ‘is at the crux of the partisan divide in Washington’ as the No. 2 Senate Democrat.
‘How can voters trust anything this man says? Durbin should either reveal his “source” or retract his partisan attack immediately and apologize,’ spokeswoman Brook Hougesen told the Chicago Tribune. ‘His credibility is waning.’
Buck added in a comment to the Huffington Post: ‘This didn’t happen and The Huffington Post should be looking into who started this false rumor.’
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