The White House on Thursday said it was responsible for a “misunderstanding” which led Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., to claim a Republican lawmaker told President Obama that “I cannot stand to look at you” during shutdown negotiations.
“There was a miscommunication when we read out that meeting to Senate Democrats and we regret that misunderstanding,” said White House press secretary Jay Carney about the matter on Thursday.
The controversy had appeared to split the White House and one of its staunchest Democratic supporters in the Senate.
Durbin alleged earlier this week in a Facebook post that a House GOP lawmaker had made the angry remark to President Obama during talks to end the 16-day government shutdown and raise the debt ceiling.
But Carney denied the allegation on Wednesday, telling reporters “it did not happen,” citing a “participant in the meeting.”
House GOP leaders also said they had not heard the alleged remark. Republicans quickly seized on Carney’s remarks and said Durbin should provide more details or offer an apology.
Durbin refused to identify the lawmaker, but stood by his account.
The White House on Thursday sought to put the issue behind them, saying that while the remark was never made, they were responsible for the controversy.
Carney sought to explain his earlier remarks. “I was simply saying the quote attributed to a House GOP lawmaker in a meeting was not accurate,” he said Thursday.
Carney declined to speculate about how the “miscommunication” between Durbin and the White House over the House GOP meeting might have come about.
“I’m not going to readout the conversations or body language of private meetings between the president and lawmakers,” he said.