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. Txjack

    So now they are Banning Free Speech and thought?
    If this was against soemone would anyone care?

    Why is this getting so much press?

    Also @ LOLO the only one that Obama is cheating on is the people of the USA.

    October 24, 2013 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  2. E Perez.

    Donna, how does it imply racism !!!! I believe the comment was " I cant even stand to look at you" . How is that racist ????
    just because the president is Black does not mean its Racist. What if he where white and the "GOP'er" was black , would that be racist??? I don't understand where your logic comes into play in your comment . if anything it shows how ignorant and RACIST YOU ARE !

    October 24, 2013 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  3. Anonymous

    Democrats lie all the time cant believe anything thay say

    October 24, 2013 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  4. Bobby

    Regardless of ideology, anyone being honest will admit that Dick Durbin is one of the plug dumbest men to ever pace the halls of Congress.

    October 24, 2013 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  5. Lisa P.

    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
    ----------------------------–
    But - let me guess - real racists who make real racist remarks are protected by the First Amendment, right? But White House staffers from the party you don't agree with need to be canned at the merest hint of a rumor that they repeated a possibly inaccurate story? Interesting.

    If it turns out that Representative Sessions said anything close to what Mr. Nabors said he did will you demand Sessions' resignation as well?

    October 24, 2013 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  6. jj

    I can't stand the sight of Republicans

    October 24, 2013 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  7. blue max

    that sure sounds like something pete sessions would say, and now he's pretending to be a victim. aawww.

    October 24, 2013 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  8. Name jk. Sfl. GOP CRUZ conservatives,the garbage of America.

    Hey , it's ok because 99% of the GOP teaparty trash will be kicked out of office in 2014 midterm elections , any left won't matter .the dems only need 18 seats to take the house majority. Make sure your registered and show up at the polls to kick out this GOP teaparty garbage of America , I know Florida will be blue after nov 2014!!!!!!

    October 24, 2013 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  9. Richard Miller

    Careful there boys. You might get hurt throwing rocks at each other.

    October 24, 2013 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  10. The Real Tom Paine

    -kfletch87

    @sniffit....perhaps you should read into the recent Canadian court ruling...death panels exist...and they will soon exist here in America. You can call them what you wish, but the fact is that doctors and non medical professionals WILL get to choose the services you receive when you get older. THEY will get to overrule families' objections when patients are unable to speak for themselves. THEY will get to determine who receives what medical procedures. If you are 70 and need a hip replacement, and they don't think you will live much longer even with a it, you will be denied the procedure.

    In short, they didn't lie. People are just so stupid and naive they believe our government would never do such a thing. Apparently you are one of said idiots.
    **************
    We've had death panels at Insurance companies for years who decided who should live and who should die based upon risk and money, not upon medical advice. Please quit trying to ignore the history of wifull neglect the Health Insurance industry has built its sordid reputation on. And what is the EXACT wording the Canadian court used, or is that another myth put forth by the Right wing media and their paid posters?

    October 24, 2013 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  11. Lisa P.

    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
    -----------------------------–

    Thanks! Now I'm wondering what Rep. Sessions really said too. I hope you got it right or we'll have to fire you! :-P

    October 24, 2013 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  12. Gabbo

    Looks like we have quite a few liars here, and they are all democraps

    October 24, 2013 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  13. just saying

    Woody's Hay
    "Rochester NY" – I highly doubt that Joe Wilson would have had the guts to say it to Obama's face. He did it because he knew he could duck away when someone looked to see who said it.
    --

    ahhhh... no guts??? he said it in front of the whole nation on a nationally televised speech with many, many cameras covering the audience. you are totally clueless.

    October 24, 2013 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  14. Former Democrat - Pre Obama

    Obama's dirty tricks, coverups, and just bad negative partisanship are a prime cause for the mustrust and gridlock in DC. Nabors should be fired...but as he was likely actuing on Obama's orders, they will cover this up as well.
    Next to Obama, Watergate looks like child's play

    October 24, 2013 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  15. Tampa Tim

    Huge – why yes you are. The ACA does not insure illegals. Turn off Fox, they are lying, and mental midgets believe them.

    October 24, 2013 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  16. Rudy NYC

    “I cannot even stand to look at you.”

    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.
    ---------------------
    Even after staring at it, and re-reading it for half an hour, it still doesn't make any sense to me. Non-sequitor.

    October 24, 2013 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  17. cjb

    I don't believe anything those democrats say – they are all liars and cheats.

    October 24, 2013 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  18. Michael Benjamin

    When a GOPTP member's lips are moving...well you know what they are doing.

    October 24, 2013 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  19. Cheetahe

    Whether you like the President's policies it is a disgrace to utter an idiotic comment about his person.

    October 24, 2013 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  20. Klatu

    So if Oweasel's widdle feelings were hurt, doesn't that mean he'll take his golf toys and go home? I'm sick of him and his bald-faced lies as well.

    October 24, 2013 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  21. cjb

    maybe he couldn't stand looking at him cuz he was just plain ugly.

    October 24, 2013 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  22. TommytheT

    beside calling Rep and Tea Parties all kinds of insults...is there anything this White House can do well?

    October 24, 2013 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  23. vbscript2

    I find it somewhat amusing and, at the same time, disturbing, at the number of comments here that seem to be taking this story as if it actually happened. Considering the White House itself is saying that it did not happen and even admitted to being the erroneous source of the fabrication, it seems pretty clear that it did not happen... The only story here is more false accusations being made by the Democratic Party and passed off as truth. This isn't really much of a story, though, considering they make up lies and post them every day on the campaign social media pages. I'm sure the GOP does the same, though it seems to be mostly the lies originally posted by the DNC that end up wasting space on my facebook newsfeed after being reposted by friends who don't bother to actually fact check things before posting them. It's amazing the garbage that some people will believe if 'their' party or its friends in the media tells them to believe it. And that definitely goes for both parties.

    October 24, 2013 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  24. Tampa Tim

    Sorry – Hugh jasoule, my comments were for you and not huge. But, yes you are.

    October 24, 2013 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  25. Tampa Tim

    Former democrat- pre Obama – are you sure there isn't some other reason you joined the party of hate?

    October 24, 2013 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
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