October 24th, 2013
02:57 PM ET
11 months ago

Sources: Word of alleged rude GOP comment came from WH deputy chief of staff

Washington (CNN) - The rude comment that might or might not have happened just isn’t going away, with sources telling CNN that word of the remarks came from White House Deputy Chief of Staff Rob Nabors.

Allegations of the remark, which supposedly happened during an October 10 government shutdown meeting with House Republicans, first surfaced when Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, posted on his Facebook page that an unnamed senior House Republican told President Barack Obama that “I cannot even stand to look at you.”

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney denied on Wednesday that the remark was ever made. Durbin has stuck to his story, though he refuses to say who made the alleged comment or how he learned of it.

Sources, however, tell CNN that Durbin learned of the alleged comment from Nabors, a longtime Hill insider.

According to the sources, Nabors told the story to four Senate Democrats – Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, New York’s Chuck Schumer, Washington’s Patty Murray, and Durbin – on October 15, near the end of the shutdown.

Reid then told the story to the entire Senate Democratic caucus, identifying the Republican in question as Texas Rep. Pete Sessions.

Sessions denies the story. A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner has 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,” spokesman Brendan Buck said. “The Senator should disclose who told him this account of events, retract his reckless allegations immediately, and apologize.”

Louisiana Republican Rep. Steve Scalise, who attended the White House meeting, told CNN that 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."

The White House’s denial has upset Senate Democrats, since they had heard the story from the Nabors. The White House is now accusing Durbin of sharing an untruthful story.

But on Thursday a White House official accepted some blame for the story.

“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,” the official said. “We regret the misunderstanding.”

Senior administration officials tell CNN that, according to those White House officials who were in the room, Sessions’ comments at the October 10 meeting were expressing frustration with the shutdown standoff, not with President Obama.

White House officials would not comment on whether Nabors misunderstood what Sessions said, or whether he just miscommunicated the story to Senate Democrats.

Nabors could not be reached for comment.

–CNN’s Jim Acosta and Athena Jones contributed to this story.


Filed under: President Obama • White House
soundoff (149 Responses)
  1. Sniffit

    "“Senator Durbin’s accusation is a serious one, and it appears to have been invented out of thin air,” spokesman Brendan Buck said. “The Senator should disclose who told him this account of events, retract his reckless allegations immediately, and apologize.”"

    Oh, NOW they suddenly have a problem with accusations that were invented out of thin air? NOW they suddenly have a problem with accusations that they were rude to the POTUS? NOW they do? Death panels? Where's the berf sertifikate? "You lie!" (they even bragged and fundraised off this one)? "Secret Muslim/Muslim Brotherhood Member!" The list is endless. They can shut up about apologies until they offer one first....one for each and every lie they've promoted for the past 5 years.

    October 24, 2013 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  2. Sniffit

    ""It's irresponsible and divisive of him because it never happened and he ought to apologize for saying it. "

    Two words: Death. Panels.

    October 24, 2013 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  3. The Real Tom Paine

    Fire him. This is not a game anymore. I've fired people for far less.

    October 24, 2013 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  4. just saying

    it is pretty clear there is no depth to which the democrats/liberals/leftists will not stoop to attack and damage their political opponents. using the irs against their opponents. planting false statements in the press. they know the damage will be done and never corrected.

    btw, did you hear that obama is cheating on michelle with valeria jarret? maybe the republicnas need to play using the same rules?

    October 24, 2013 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  5. Hiruu

    White House officials would not comment on whether Nabors misunderstood what Sessions said, or whether he just miscommunicated the story to Senate Democrats.

    Oh...I'm sure it happened, but the WH is just trying to keep the lids cool on it, and not rile up the democrats. GOPers are rude and feel the need to display and present curtsies, only when they find it convenient

    October 24, 2013 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  6. truth hurts but reality bites

    It is NOT news that they found liars in the Obama adminstration. It would be news if the found somebody wh was NOT lying.

    October 24, 2013 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  7. V.L.R.

    I can't even stand to look at either political party. Do I get my 5 minutes of undeserved attention now?

    October 24, 2013 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  8. ctu

    I don't think anybody that would consider themselves a professional should be disrespectful to the president, but with all of our issues I can not even fathom how this could be a story.

    October 24, 2013 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  9. Donna

    This was not just a made up rude comment. It was a made up comment implying racism. This guy needs to be fired immediately.

    October 24, 2013 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  10. TommytheT

    wow so let say it did happen:

    Mr Obama can call elected Senators and members of the House, terrorist, arsonist and kidnappers and others leaders in his party can them Domestic abusers, but how dare some one disrespect the liar in chief. Or should I say King Obama.

    October 24, 2013 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  11. Rochester NY

    Joe Wilson said "You lie" on national television during the State of the Union. It is not difficult to believe this was said in a private meeting.

    October 24, 2013 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  12. Mark Jakes

    The dems daily say some of the crudest things about the GOP members including obama and they act mad about this?

    October 24, 2013 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  13. Harold Richards

    Mommy! They called names at work again... Make them stop! Put them in time out!!!

    October 24, 2013 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  14. david

    FIRST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! i just would like to say that i hope that everyone is having a good day!

    October 24, 2013 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  15. jboh

    I thik the TE/GOP should retract and apologize for years of insults, false accusations, and outright lies by: druggie Limbaugh, Cruz, DeMint, Newt, Sessions, Gommert, Stockman, ect ect ect.

    October 24, 2013 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  16. dplandry

    He only said what most of America feels....complete disgust anytime we see the clown in the white house!

    October 24, 2013 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  17. david

    well that ruined my first comment. i was slow on the trigger.

    October 24, 2013 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  18. Jack 2

    What's the big deal? I can't stcand to look at the liar myself

    October 24, 2013 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  19. jboh

    Jusy sayin' is earning his Koch roach $ again.

    October 24, 2013 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  20. Bob

    HA!! More Democrats getting caught in more lies.

    October 24, 2013 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  21. Paul R

    It's not enough to use the truth as a weapon. Now they just fabricate lies.

    October 24, 2013 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  22. Jack 2

    What's the big deal? I can't stand to look at the liar myself

    October 24, 2013 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  23. Al

    Perhaps Sen. Dick Durbin himself made the remark and is trying to cover it up and say someone else said it. Heck when Secretary Jay Carney comes out and actually defends the Republicans you can check that that date for the event didn't happen as Durbin wants people to believe.

    October 24, 2013 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  24. Michael F.

    Regardless of who said what, these 'leaders' that we expect to BE PRODUCTIVE and take care of the BUSINESS OF GOVERNING—are acting like a bunch of fifth graders, squealing little insults behind one another's backs. WHAT DEPLORABLE BEHAVIOR...

    October 24, 2013 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  25. TheTraveler

    This article is like something out of the National Enquirer ...

    October 24, 2013 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
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