The White House and House Republican leaders have denied a report that one top GOP lawmaker insulted President Obama during negotiations to reopen the government.
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., asserted the purported slight in a Facebook post this weekend.
“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,’” Durbin wrote Sunday.
“What are the chances of an honest conversation with someone who has just said something so disrespectful?” he added.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, however, denied any member of the House leadership team made such a statement to the president.
“I looked into this and spoke with somebody that was in that meeting and it did not happen,” Carney said at the White House press briefing Wednesday.
It’s unclear when this alleged insult would have been made, but House Republican leadership and committee chairmen met with President Obama earlier this month to discuss the government shutdown and debt ceiling. Durbin was not present for that meeting.
A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner also denied the alleged statement and called on Durbin to apologize and reveal who provided the information to him.
“Senator Durbin’s accusation is a serious one, and it appears to have been invented out of thin air. The senator should disclose who told him this account of events, retract his reckless allegation immediately, and apologize,” said Brendan Buck, a spokesman for Boehner.
Aides close to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy also denied that their bosses were responsible for the alleged comment, as did several committee chairmen who attended the meeting.
Durbin’s office did not offer further comment or clarification on the statement.