- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 24, 2013

All sides seem to agree that the now-infamous “I cannot even stand to look at you” insult purportedly directed at President Obama never was uttered.

But some damage already may have been done to Rep. Pete Sessions, Texas Republican, who was blamed for the incendiary remarks that, according to the White House and others, weren’t even made.

Mr. Sessions’ Facebook page is now littered with derogatory comments, with some users — many of whom do not appear to be from the congressman’s district — calling him a “disgrace,” a “monster” and other not-so-flattering terms.

His spokeswoman, Torrie Miller, vehemently denies that the congressman made the statement, an assertion confirmed by the White House and now acknowledged by Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin, Illinois Democrat, who lobbed the initial charge earlier this week.

“He did not” say it, Ms. Miller said. “I think it was made clear yesterday from [White House press secretary] Jay Carney that the exchange you are referring to did not happen.” 

Indeed, Mr. Carney said Wednesday that the comments — purportedly made during a meeting between Mr. Obama and congressional Republicans to discuss the government shutdown and debt-ceiling debate — never were said.

On Thursday, he blamed the debacle on a “miscommunication” from the White House on the heels of that meeting.

“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,” Mr. Carney said. “We’re focused on trying to find areas of common ground with lawmakers of both parties to move the American people’s agenda forward.”

A few hours later, Mr. Durbin, his party’s No. 2 man in the Senate, with a history of making incendiary remarks, acknowledged that the entire ordeal amounted to a misunderstanding.

“I appreciate this clarification from the White House that explains recent conflicting reports on the GOP quote,” he wrote on his Facebook page. “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.”

As of Thursday evening, the initial post remains on Mr. Durbin’s Facebook page. 

It’s also unclear why the White House, presumably with knowledge that a simple “miscommunication” was to blame, didn’t come out and address the situation sooner.

The misunderstanding reportedly began with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, who was told of the comments during a conversation with White House officials.

The Huffington Post reported Thursday that two Democratic senators say a top White House aide present at the meeting later told Democratic leaders — presumably, Mr. Reid — about the comments. 

The two senators identified the culprit as White House Deputy Chief of Staff Rob Nabors, though Mr. Carney on Thursday would not go into greater detail, nor confirm just who was at fault.


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