Updated at 1:40 p.m.
The White House said a “misunderstanding” lead to Sen. Dick Durbin’s claim that a Republican insulted the president during shutdown negotiations.
“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 said in a circulated statement.
Following Durbin’s accusation, Republicans and the White House initially denied the accusation.
“I will not admit to saying anything because it would not be true,” Texas Republican Rep. Pete Sessions told reporters on Wednesday after being suggested as the one who delivered the remark, but suggested that the remark wasn’t totally out of character: “If they taped our conversations in there, and private conversations were taped, they should have advised us of that, and I’m disappointed that the White House would try and mislead people otherwise.”
The number two Democrat in the Senate criticized Republicans in a Facebook post on Sunday, writing that “in a ‘negotiation’ meeting with the president, one GOP House leader told the president: “I cannot even stand to look at you.”
When contacted by Morning Joe, Durbin’s office said the senator stood by the claim and added that another senator would step forward to verify the story on Thursday.
“Dick Durbin, I think, the onus is now on him. He needs to come clean about who said this, who told him that. Was he in the room? Which Republican leader?” Politico executive editor Jim VandeHei said on Thursday’s Morning Joe. “That would be such a display of disrespect that even in this town in this moment when everyone’s acting so nasty, that would really take it to a limit that we have not seen before. The burden’s on him to tell us who said that.”
Brendan Buck, Speaker John Boehner’s spokesman, has called on Durbin to apologize.
“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,” he said.