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. jenn, philadelphia

    Let's see a Democrat (Durbin) says somebody insulted the President? The White House denies it happened. Now the White House claims it's all a "misunderstanding", and some how all the kool-aid drinkers still blame the Republicans? Remarkable. Did the Administration dip themselves in teflon on the 1st day and now nothing sticks to them? The White House lied. Whether is was about it not happening at all or the guy who told everyone it happened. Why is that acceptable to any one?

    October 24, 2013 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  2. Klatu

    Way to go, CNN ! ! ! Bury the ACA website idiocy to back pages, plaster over the front page about the teacher's death in HUGE type, and now you're worried about who's sick of looking at who?
    Pretty nauseating all the way around. Did you forget Oweasel had YOUR journalists spied on????

    October 24, 2013 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  3. DCBill

    Did Session's nose get longer when he denied saying it???

    October 24, 2013 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  4. Blandly

    "Nabors told the story to four Senate Democrats – Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, New York’s Chuck Schumer, Washington’s Patty Murray, and Durbin"

    I'm thinking maybe Nabors is where Reid gets all his "accurate" stories from. Should look into that.

    October 24, 2013 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  5. E.R. White

    I do not doubt that it was said. Not for a minute. Sessions is from Texas. One more tea party idiot from Texas sent to Washington, to mess things up as much as possible. Also, I do not for a minute doubt that the White House would play this down. How is there a "polite political" way to acknowledge such an insult., and lack of respect, .... not only to The President of The United States, but to the Office of The President of The United States? There is no civility, in the Texas caucus either in the House or Senate. They all need to be replaced, with people who care more for this country than they do for the Tea Party..... whatever that is.

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

    @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.
    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.
    No, he yelled it from the cheap seats because he is classless. It's a general trait of the far right – classless..... disrespectful..... and psudo-patriotic.

    October 24, 2013 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  7. sifto

    expect no truth or even consequences from this WH and his Democratic storytellers...

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

    Are all republicans in denial? They are becoming the party of Bagdad Bob.

    October 24, 2013 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  9. Sniffit

    "maybe the republicnas need to play using the same rules?"

    They've been doing nothing but fabricating lies and accusations for the past 5 years. And for a gaggle of petulant tantrum throwers who have literally bragged to their base about he disrespectful and belittling things they've done and said about and to the POTUS to now whine that they were accused of doing it again...that's just ridiculous. YOU LIE.

    October 24, 2013 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  10. Dennis

    "Might or might not have happened"? Is CNN that desperate to go left of MSNBC that even Jay Carney's denial isn't good enough for them to accept that it never happened? I'm guessing Teddy Turner can't stand the idea that a Republican might actually be the VICTIM of slander? God knows if the situation was reversed and someone accused Obama (of more likely "Joey Tourettes" Biden) of making this statement about Boehner or McConnell you wouldn't have even reported it, let alone be so reluctant to let it go.

    October 24, 2013 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  11. oharris30

    Nothing to read here. White people have gone stark raving mad in the government and on these blogs. the Disgusting lies and hate blogged here everyday against President Obama is the most sickening thing ever. And most of these racist idiots will believe anything the racist GOP and TP throw out there. They have become worse than their leader Rush Limbaugh. ANd the hate bloggers just soak it all up. They're just like echoes. Echoing the hate they hear from those who lie about the president everyday. And to think these were the people running this country. It's no wonder there's such a big mess here. Corrupt government has been going on for years. President Obama comes along and picks up the little folks and the whites go crazy.

    October 24, 2013 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  12. Wake up People!

    It's not like it hasn't happened before. Also what exactly did Sessions say? And even if he did say it, President Obama will play it down because he's not into all of that pettiness.

    He's used to the silliness.

    October 24, 2013 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  13. Sniffit

    "It was a made up comment implying racism"

    It in no way implies racism and would be nothing more than a rude, disrespectful comment akin to other things they've said directly to his face, directly to the cameras, directly to their constituents, directly to their donors, and while heckling him...even during the State of the Union Address on the floor of the House of Representatives while millions and millions of Americans watched.

    October 24, 2013 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  14. John

    Sessions didn't say it (per the WH) but millions think it

    October 24, 2013 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  15. Name jk. Sfl. GOP CRUZ conservatives,the garbage of America.

    The GOP trash have been bad mouthing president Obama sence the day he got elected to his first term and he was elected AGAIN and the GOP babies are still crying. Guess what, Hillary is take inch you to the cleaners again in 2016 suckers!!!!!

    October 24, 2013 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |

    Not rude if you can accept the truth. The man is a proven traitor and supplier of cash and arms to terrorists and cartels, enemies of our country. Process the law arrest and perform the required penalty...to all traitors in our top positions and all who enabled. Clean out the house legally.

    October 24, 2013 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  17. Dean

    As low as the republicans have sunk, I believe Durbin.

    October 24, 2013 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  18. jeff Santa Barbara

    @ jean, philadelphia: and you have nothing better to do with your miserable existence, than worry about it. Get a job GOPer!!! Then you can worry about what to do with your life.

    October 24, 2013 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  19. JLS1950

    Just a "polite" little cover-up.

    October 24, 2013 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  20. Christian Grey

    Barry has lied to you all so many times but it's OK because your demoRATS

    October 24, 2013 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  21. Sniffit

    "@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. "

    None of what you just vomited is even remotely a power or authority granted to the commission the GOP/Teatrolls deliberately mischaracterized as "death panels." Moreover, citing to some random, unspecified Canadian court ruling that I doubt you really even have a thorough understanding of...let alone the differences between their system and ours or the structure of the ACA itself...is absurd.

    October 24, 2013 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  22. Scott

    @ER White:
    Of course you don't doubt that it was said. Even though the president said it didn't happen, you still apparently need concocted lies to feed your Kool aid habit. You sir, are a lemming.

    October 24, 2013 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  23. Christian Grey

    I am reading about all the insults the GOP have thrown at Odumbo and I love it. He is a liar and needs to be called on it.

    October 24, 2013 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  24. Sniffit

    Has Alex Jones declared this a "false flag operation" yet?

    October 24, 2013 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  25. sifto

    "As the WH stomach turns" these are the days of their lives..distract and deny the Obamacare mess...

    October 24, 2013 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
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