Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) ignited a firestorm with a Facebook post this week alleging that an unnamed Republican House leader told the president t “I cannot even stand to look at you,” during contentious government shutdown negotiations on October 10th.
“What are the chances of an honest conversation with someone who has just said something so disrespectful?” Durbin saidd.
Now Republicans are rushing to deny that the story has any merit.
“I will not admit to saying anything because it would not be true,” Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) told reporters yesterday, “If they taped our conversations in there, and private conversations were taped, they should have advised us of that, and I’m disappointed that the White House would try and mislead people otherwise.”
Sessions says that he did stand up during the meeting and say that what the shutdown situation needed was leadership, an interaction that he said was not confrontational, but he denied that he said “I cannot even stand to look at you,” or anything similar.
According to Huffington Post, Sessions was labeled as the culprit behind the alleged comment by none other than Democratic Senate majority leader Harry Reid. However, Reid may have received faulty reports about what was actually said during the October 10 meeting.
“While the quote attributed to a Republican lawmaker in the House GOP meeting with the president is not accurate, there was a miscommunication when the White House read out that meeting to Senate Democrats, and we regret the misunderstanding,” a White House official said in a statement.
A spokesman for Speaker of the House John Boehner has also disavowed any knowledge of the disrespectful remark: “Senator Durbin’s accusation is a serious one, and it appears to have been invented out of thin air. The senator should disclose who told him this account of events, retract his reckless allegation immediately, and apologize.”
Meanwhile, the White House is distancing themselves from Durbin.
Yesterday, the Obama administration’s press secretary Jay Carney said, “I looked into this and spoke with somebody who was in that meeting and it did not happen.”