March 9th, 2010
03:19 PM ET
3 years ago

White House: Massa's claims are 'silly and ridiculous'

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Tuesday that recent accusations by former Democratic Rep. Eric Massa are 'silly and ridiculous.'
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Tuesday that recent accusations by former Democratic Rep. Eric Massa are 'silly and ridiculous.'

(CNN) – The White House is dismissing former Rep. Eric Massa's claims that Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel "is the son of devil's spawn" who once berated him in the nude for not supporting the president's budget.

Twice on Tuesday, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Massa's recent accusations about Emanuel are "silly and ridiculous."

In the wake of a Politico report that Massa sexually harassed one of his male staffers, the Democratic lawmaker announced last week that he would not seek re-election and then, just days later, that he would retire - effective Monday evening.

In his last full day in office on Monday, the departing lawmaker took a shot at the president's chief of staff.

"Rahm Emanuel is the son of the devil's spawn," Massa told a caller Sunday during his radio program on WKPQ in upstate New York. "He is an individual that would sell his mother for a vote. He would strap his children to the front end of a steam locomotive. If he doesn't like me, he can come after me personally."

On the broadcast, Massa also recounted a confrontation with Emanuel in the House gym.

"I'm sitting there showering, naked as a jaybird and here comes Rahm Emanuel, not even a towel wrapped around his tush, poking his finger in my chest, yelling at me because I wasn't going to vote for the president's budget," he said. "Do you know how awkward it is to have a political argument with a naked man? And by the way, what the heck is doing in the congressional gym? He goes there to intimidate members of Congress."

Massa said Emanuel "hates my guts."

"He's hated me from day one and now he wins," he claimed. "So, he'll get rid of me and this bill will pass and I don't know what we're going to do in this country."

Gibbs said he has not asked Emanuel about Massa's comments.

Massa, who was in his first term in the House, had opposed Democratic health care legislation before Congress, arguing that it is not liberal enough. It was one reason, he said, that Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill wanted him gone.

"That's completely false. There is zero merit to that accusation," said Katie Grant, a spokeswoman for House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. An aide to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also denied Massa's claim.

Gibbs likewise rejected the idea that there was any kind of Democratic plot to get Massa out of Congress because of his opposition to health care reform.

"The notion that somehow the White House had anything to do with the series of events that have caused him to not seek re-election and then ultimately leave the House, the notion that somehow were involved in that is, as I said this morning, silly and ridiculous," he said.

Earlier Tuesday, Gibbs told ABC News: "We're focused not on crazy allegations but instead on making this [health care] system work for the American people rather than work for insurance companies."

Follow Martina Stewart on Twitter: @MMStewartCNN


Filed under: Eric Massa • Health care • Obama administration • Rahm Emanuel
soundoff (63 Responses)
  1. Kenneth

    hmmmm ... Massa sounds like an undercover Republican.

    March 9, 2010 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  2. ED FL

    Check out old time records or folks who remember the old Massachusetts combat zone . Massa sounds and acts like the old time hanger ons in the combat zoneescapades.

    March 9, 2010 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  3. Dave

    Really? Are his claims that crazy? It is basic Chicago strong arm, corrupt politics. Massa might have issues, but it doesn't mean what he is saying isn't true. Let's face it, it is not the first time someon has claimed this admin of being SEVERELY CORRUPT.

    March 9, 2010 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  4. Chris D.

    This guy is wacko........Simple and plain.

    March 9, 2010 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  5. aware

    Blessing and cursing or binding and loosing are not the in the purview of this administration. Leadership that would command respect must also give it. :(

    March 9, 2010 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  6. Bill

    If Gibbs says it's not true, it's true.

    March 9, 2010 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  7. Willy Brown

    Sounds like the norm at Camp Obama Chicago Thug Style.

    March 9, 2010 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  8. aware

    Blessing and cursing or binding and loosing are not in the purview of this administration. Leadership that would command respect must also give it. :(

    March 9, 2010 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  9. Mike, formerly from Syracuse

    Sounds like a typical Democrat. Hey why force him out, he's a good fit with Rangel, Patterson, and all the other Democratic losers. How's that hopey-changey thing working out?

    March 9, 2010 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  10. Chris D.

    President Obama, is the most competent politician, in the USA today........The GOP is a joke, many of the DEMS are spineless......they've forgotten that if Obama wasn't on the ballot in Nov. 2008, many of these guys would not be in congress right now........
    Anyway, we have Rep. Rangel in trouble, Messa in hot dung also....Does this mean that the DEM party is corrupt?
    No.......at least we get rid of the bums quick......Senator Ensign(R) is still in the senate, and Gov. Sanford is still in the governors mansion (albeit he's a lameduck now)........
    The GOP is out of touch......America is coming back, and it's a shame we have to drag the other party through the dirt kicking and screaming on our way to progress.

    March 9, 2010 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  11. Annie, Atlanta

    According to the Washington Post Massa is under investigation for allegedly groping male aides. It will be interesting to see how Glenn Beck, who is hosting Massa on his show this afternoon, will handle this one. I, for one, won't be watching. Jack Cafferty is back today.

    March 9, 2010 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  12. Linda

    Texas Jack, One proud racist!!!!!

    March 9, 2010 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  13. marcia

    this is hilarious.
    Rahm is a jerk and a devil and Massa
    tattled on him!
    Boy fight!

    March 9, 2010 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
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