White House Takes 'Miscommunication' Blame for Durbin Accusation
Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) was identified as the lawmaker accused of insulting President Barack Obama during the government shutdown negotiations, while the White House, which already said that no insult happened to begin with, is taking the blame for "miscommunication."
According to the Dallas Morning News:
This morning, the Huffington Post, citing unnamed sources, said that Democratic senators were told of the exchange in a caucus meeting by their leader, Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada. It was Reid, the HuffPost reported, who fingered Sessions as the Republican in question.
Now, it appears that the Democrats got their information from White House officials who incorrectly described what took place at the 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 Thursday in an email.
Sessions told reporters last night that he had spoken at the meeting, according to The Hill.
“I told the president that I believed there needed to be a reevaluation of a leadership role toward that end,” Sessions was quoted as saying. “It’s as simple as that.”
The White House responded on Wednesday to Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), who claimed a GOP leader remarked to President Barack Obama during government shut-down negotiations, "I cannot even stand to look at you.” Durbin had already started fundraising off the so called incident:
“It did not happen,” White House spokesperson Jay Carney said when questioned about the incident. In a statement to TIME, Durbin’s spokesperson Max Gleischman said, “Senator Durbin stands by his comments.”
Both House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor challenged Durbin’s claim. “The senator should disclose who told him this account of events, retract his reckless allegation immediately, and apologize,” said Boehner spokesperson Brendan Buck.
“The speaker certainly didn’t say that, and does not recall anyone else doing so,” Michael Steel, Boehner’s spokesman, told National Review. Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) spokesman Rory Cooper told reporters on Wednesday that his boss was shocked to hear the accusations from Durbin and said the remarks were never made. Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX), who was part of the negotiations, also told reporters that Durbin's claim, which he made on a Facebook post, was false.