October 24th, 2013
02:57 PM ET
5 years 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. Bob

    I don't believe ANYTHING those House Repukes say. They are all liars and cheats.

    October 24, 2013 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  2. Foghorn Leghorn

    While some on here comment using political pandering either against and or for one party or the other, the majority of Americans who become even more against both parties in general, shake their heads at the growing childishness of it all..

    October 24, 2013 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  3. Kinard

    When it comes to the party of Sling Blade, nothing would surprise. They've done everything possible to ruin the country since 2000, it's amazing they are not in prison. How any upright walking person with opposing thumbs, could be fooled into believing that they (as a party or individually), care for them or their future is beyond reason.

    October 24, 2013 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  4. b0bc@t

    Is it required that Senators be comfortable keeping company with the President? Could he have said this, as a personal opinion, about his distrust of the man, without it being a political scandal? How many people have opinions about the majority/minority speakers in each house, without scandals erupting? I personally cannot stand to look at Pelosi or Reid, but that is hardly a crminal offense. This was a political call to the principal's office for these grown Senators.

    October 24, 2013 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  5. jharry

    Funny, but that's the same way I feel. Anytime the narcissist in chief shows his lying mouth on TV, I turn the channel. Call me rude.

    October 24, 2013 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  6. hugh Jasoule

    To be fair, Joe Wilson was proven right. Obama lied.

    Obama promised that illegal aliens would not benefit from Obamacare. We now know that Obama has earmarked tens of millions for health centers that treat illegals.

    October 24, 2013 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  7. Rudy NYC

    And this is why I went into politics. It's more fun to sit on the sideline and armchair quarterback. You're never wrong.

    October 24, 2013 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  8. Lolo

    @just saying. really now. Trust and believe Barack Obama is not cheating on Michelle Obama. That may happen in the GOP circles of women haters, but this little rumor you are spreading will not fly. You know that the GOP/TP men do the most cheating on thier wives. That is why they like to keep them barefooted and pregnant in the kitchen.Get a grip on yourself. You tea party trolls think of the stupidiest things and then expect people to believe you. LMAO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    October 24, 2013 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  9. toxictown

    I like stories.

    October 24, 2013 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  10. Scot B

    Looks like Durbin is now reading from Reid's playbook? Remember Reid's false accusations of Romney during the campaign last year?

    October 24, 2013 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  11. Evergreen

    The President always comes across as the grownup in the room. Lets follow his example and leave the he-said-she-said for the children.

    October 24, 2013 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  12. kgala

    Sessions’ comments at the October 10 meeting were expressing frustration with the shutdown standoff, not with President Obama. "
    What the Rep. Sessions really meant was that "“I cannot even stand to look at the shutdown standoff.”

    October 24, 2013 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  13. sanjay

    The drama continues! Too many plots to follow in the White House and the Congress.

    October 24, 2013 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  14. Jay Redd

    Where's the story about Alan Grayson, D-Fla. insulting the Tea Party members? He said the Tea Party was the KKK.

    October 24, 2013 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  15. Barry

    So why is it when a Democrat lies its a miscommunication but if a Republican lied, its a LIE?? And why does the media buy into this??

    October 24, 2013 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  16. Mark

    Both parties sound like school kids at recess.

    October 24, 2013 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  17. rosie

    Someone bad mouthed the President? Oh my word. Where was the outrage when Bush was being blasted daily by the Dems?

    October 24, 2013 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  18. johntdavenport

    Bush gets a shoe thrown by an Arab, Obama gets a barb from politicians he himself cannot stand, wah wah

    Nothing to see here

    October 24, 2013 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  19. cgs

    Is CNN going to go back now and cover all of the insults to Bush? Sheeesh!

    October 24, 2013 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  20. 54StarryNights

    Just when you think our politicians couldn't act more like bratty little babies, it turns out they can. Wouldn't be nice if there were some adults in office who would actually focus on something important like the common good of this country instead of always playing na na na na na na.

    October 24, 2013 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  21. gustifer53

    Nothing that a Teapublican does surprises me. They are childish, disrespectful, obstructionists and yes they are very prejudice against OUR President. Have NEVER in my 60 years witnessed such outright disrespect for a President of the United States. I would love to see everyone of them voted out of politics and rightfully so.

    October 24, 2013 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  22. benny hill

    Is he related to Gomer Pyle?

    October 24, 2013 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  23. JH

    Gee, a lib making false accusations. nothing new here.

    The reason they do crap like this is because they know the unintelligent and uninformed will take it and run with it, spreading the lie.

    October 24, 2013 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  24. Cookie girl

    I can't stand the sight or sound of him.

    October 24, 2013 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  25. mountainlady

    What are these people.... 12? Adults should be adult enough to know better than to talk like this in public and adults should also know when to ignore words said in frustration. ENOUGH! We have real work to do in this country and don't have time for middle school behavior.

    October 24, 2013 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
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