Reid told Democratic Senators about GOP insult: Backs Durbin version in flapContinue reading.
White House takes back Carney slam at Durbin: A “misunderstanding”
WASHINGTON–The White House is taking back Thursday a slam leveled at Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) by Press Secretary Jay Carney over an alleged insult to President Barack Obama by a GOP House leader.
A White House official told me “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, and we regret the misunderstanding.”
Later, at the White House briefing, Carney was asked to “clarify the Dick Durbin situation. Yesterday it seemed like you were throwing him under the bus, but now it seems more complicated.”
Carney replied, “Let me just say that yesterday I was simply saying that the quote attributed to a Republican lawmaker in the House GOP meeting with the president was not accurate — I wasn’t accusing anybody of anything — and that what I can tell you is that there was a miscommunication when the White House read out that meeting to Senate Democrats, and we regret the misunderstanding.”
Carney was asked to explain more how the misunderstanding occurred and he said,
“No, I’m not going to get into either private meetings between congressional leaders and the president or private meetings between White House officials and members and leaders of Congress. We tend not to read out private conversations.
“But what I will say is that the quote attributed to the lawmaker was not accurate, but there was a miscommunication in the readout of that meeting between the White House and Senate Democrats, and we regret that.”
Durbin has not taken down the Sunday Facebook post that triggered the controversy. On Thursday, after the White House statement came out Durbin wrote on Facebook, “I appreciate this clarification from the White House that explains recent conflicting reports on the GOP quote. It is important now to move beyond the unfortunate events of the last few weeks and work together constructively so that we’re not faced with another shutdown showdown or debt-ceiling debacle.
At issue is a meeting the GOP House Leaders had with Obama on Oct. 10, during the partial federal government shutdown and looming debt ceiling crisis.
Durbin’s Facebook page posted this entry on Sunday: “Many Republicans searching for something to say in defense of the disastrous shutdown strategy will say President Obama just doesn’t try hard enough to communicate with Republicans. But in a ‘negotiation’ meeting with the president, one GOP House Leader told the president: ‘I cannot even stand to look at you.’
“What are the chances of an honest conversation with someone who has just said something so disrespectful.”
On Wednesday, Carney was asked about this at a briefing and said, “I looked into this and spoke with somebody who was in that meeting, and it did not happen,” Carney said.
Asked if anyone from the White House spoke to Durbin about the comments, Carney said, “I don’t know. I don’t — my understanding is that, again, from a participant in the meeting, that that didn’t happen.”
Durbin communications director Max Gleischman told me Durbin “stands by his comments.”
On Thursday morning, I confirmed--as did the Huffington Post–that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) told a gathering of Democratic senators that a GOP House leader said in a private meeting with President Barack Obama he could not stand to look at him– the exchange reported by Durbin and denied by the White House.
The GOP lawmaker in question is Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas). His office is denying that he made the comment.