(CNN) - The White House Wednesday denied an accusation from a top Democratic Senator that a House Republican leader told President Barack Obama “I cannot even stand to look at you” during a recent White House meeting on the government shutdown.
“I looked into it and spoke with somebody who was in the meeting and it did not happen,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said in response to a question about the charge, which Dick Durbin, the second-ranking Senate Democrat, posted online three days ago.
“Senator Durbin stands by his comments,” said Max Gleischman, a spokesman for Durbin.
But Gleischman declined publicly to provide additional details about the allegation or say who Durbin believes uttered the remark.
In his comments, which were posted on his campaign’s Facebook page, Durbin wrote: “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. 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 alleged exchange occurred at an October 10 meeting between the President and a group of about 20 Republican House members – mostly members of leadership and committee chairs, according to a Congressional aide. Durbin did not attend the meeting.
A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner demanded Durbin retract his allegation and apologize.
“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 allegations immediately, and apologize,” said Brendan Buck.
Louisiana Republican Rep. Steve Scalise, who attended the White House meeting, told CNN Durbin's account "never happened."
"It's irresponsible and divisive of him because it never happened and he ought to apologize for saying it. He ought to just man up and say 'you know what, I said something foolish I shouldn’t have said, it didn’t happen’ and apologize."
–CNN's Deirdre Walsh contributed to this story.