October 24th, 2013
02:57 PM ET
9 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. Juan lejos

    I don't know what the big fuss is about. I can't stand to look at him when he is on T.V.

    October 24, 2013 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  2. Pete

    No, Sessions is that kind of Republican, he would not only say it, but he will say it again...

    October 24, 2013 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  3. GI Joe

    The comment was made by (get ready to be shocked) ...................... Sessions (R-TX)

    October 24, 2013 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  4. scarf

    Perhaps Sen Durbin should simply explain that his remark "was not meant to be a factually correct statement." I'm sure the Republicans will understand what that means.

    October 24, 2013 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  5. Galactus93

    Senator Durbin also wants to give Amnesty to illegal aliens. He is an embarrassment to the state of Illinois and I am ashamed of my own Senator.

    October 24, 2013 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  6. holspark

    Another Brother be lyin'?? Hard to believe!

    October 24, 2013 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  7. lloyd roberts

    Oh woopie, yippie, the dems might have gotten caught here. Holy Jesus, happy days for tea partiers, oh boy, caught em". The real tragedy is that everybody here on this post, other than the most hardened "Obama killed Christ", haters readily believed that a republican senator would be capable of saying that, especially from Texas. I've heard what these fine folks have said on the video, so I would have no doubt in my mind that a senator from Texas would say that to the current President of the United States

    October 24, 2013 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  8. JamVee

    If I were the President, I would "chastise" Mr. Nabors in person, and quite "vigorously, if he hasn't done so already.

    October 24, 2013 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  9. dina

    No one has disrespected the office of the president and the president like the republicans have done. They should be ashamed.

    October 24, 2013 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  10. Sick Sick Sick

    Proving that Democrats, who can't come up with creative ideas and refuse to work with Republicans, turn to insults, conjecture and downright lies. They are like small spoiled children...I mean, what adult does these things?

    October 24, 2013 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  11. SpgfldTom

    Nobody plays the 5th grade "I can't stand to look at you" card better than Dick Durbin! Dick Durbin? Isn't he the guy that wants to give amnesty to 11 million criminals? Durbin needs to apologize and be put in a "time out" with Biden.

    October 24, 2013 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  12. c

    @sniffit....perhaps you should read into the recent Canadian court ruling...death panels exist...and they will soon exist here in America

    Perhaps YOU should read into the recent Canadian ruling. It involves end of life treatment (or lack thereof) when there is a dispute between the patients wishes, the family wishes and the doctors. You know, just like what the Bush administration tried to do in the Teri Schiavo case. Compare that to what we have here, where every day insurance companies (not doctors) are making decisions regarding what will be covered for patients that DO have a chance of recovering.

    October 24, 2013 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  13. hannah

    These people sound like a bunch of first graders. They are al acting like children. When are they going to grow up and become responsible leaders and help get our country on track again?

    October 24, 2013 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  14. Data Driven

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

    Or, maybe the "Obamacare mess" isn't as big as CNN has led you to believe over the past few days. Did you enjoy the GOP's latest flop of a hearing? What's that? No bombshells?

    It's well past time that the Ticker starts covering other stories besides a buggy website. There are other political stories out there. Deal with it.

    October 24, 2013 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  15. AndyM

    Expect major hearings in the House about this gossip, and who didn't like who first, whether someone just looks fat in those pants, and other juicy middle school girl stuff, from Rep Issa soon.

    October 24, 2013 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  16. oharris30

    If I were president, I would have had security kick him out of MY office.

    October 24, 2013 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  17. Tell the Truth

    SO WHAT? More than half of all Americans, the whole of Europe, Chins and Russia can't stand to look at Obama either!
    Not that it's true mind you – it's just another distraction from Obama's mega fails........and don't THEY come thick and fast!!!!

    October 24, 2013 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  18. DustyOnes

    Democrats caught lying again.

    October 24, 2013 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  19. RKC

    Just when you think things couldn't possibly get more immature and childlike in Washington...

    October 24, 2013 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  20. francescoles-selma

    Speaking of liar in chief, (Tommy the T) I am the big 60 in age, so I've seen many of them. Although I've been independent for many of my years, the Republicans have made clear to me that they REALLY HATE ALL OF HUMANITY! I will never entertain a thought to vote for them. I lived in Wisconsin years ago, work on John Anderson'scampaign. I later worked on Ross Perot, I just haven't seen a Republican with a heart. Now my Democrats have always been disappointing also because, until Obama they had no spine.

    October 24, 2013 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  21. mark shiro

    another brotha be lyin. i'm shocked, shocked i tell you! LOL!

    October 24, 2013 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  22. ImvotingforHillary

    Sessions said it.

    October 24, 2013 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  23. George Washington

    No, Sessions is that kind of Republican, he would not only say it, but he will spray it ...

    October 24, 2013 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  24. jdbost

    Just shooting from the hip like Ted Cruz. No substance or fact but a great sound bite!!

    October 24, 2013 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
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