It turns out Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) did not actually hear a Republican House leader tell President Barack Obama, “I cannot even stand to look at you.”
Rather, Durbin heard about the alleged confrontation from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who supposedly heard it from an anonymous White House source.
Reid told his Democratic caucus about the alleged comment during a private meeting last week, two senators confirmed to the Huffington Post.
White House press secretary Jay Carney on Wednesday denied Durbin’s initial charge, which he posted on Facebook Sunday. On Thursday, the administration reiterated that no confrontation between the president and a Republican congressman took place during recent budget negotiations, and apologized for what it characterized as a “miscommunication.”
“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,” a White House official told Talking Points Memo.
According to the Huffington Post, when pressed for details about what the White House told Democratic leaders that could have led to the “miscommunication,” a White House official said he was not “going to read out the details of private meetings with the president, or private meetings between [White House] and [Democratic] leaders.”
Amazingly enough, the story has yet another strange twist.
The two senators who confirmed that Reid made the claim also said a top White House aide identified which Republican was supposedly responsible: Congressman Pete Sessions (R-Texas), the chairman of the House Rules Committee.
“He did not say that,” a person connected to Sessions’ office told TheBlaze Thursday.
Reid also said that when the Texas congressman supposedly disrespected the president, Obama said he understands that Republicans disagree with him on many issues and he “respected their differences,” the Huffington Post reported.
But according to the White House, the supposed confrontation between Sessions and Obama, and the president’s alleged magnanimous reaction, never happened.
A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has called on Durbin to apologize for spreading what appears to be a false story.
“At this point, we just hope Senator Durbin will do the right thing,” Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck told TheBlaze in an email.
The Illinois senator has yet to retract the story.
“Sen. Durbin stands by his comments,” Durbin spokesman Max Gleischman said Wednesday.
Spokespersons for Reid and Durbin did not immediately respond to TheBlaze’s request for comment.
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