Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) on Monday removed a Facebook post that erroneously claimed a GOP leader had told the president, “I can’t even stand to look at you,” saying he’s satisfied that that people now know he’s not to blame for the mistake.
The decision resolves a point of tension between the White House and one of President Barack Obama’s most loyal defenders. The White House says the error stemmed from a “miscommunication.”
Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, posted on his Facebook page on Oct. 20 that at a meeting with Obama during the government shutdown, a “GOP House Leader told the president: I can’t even stand to look at you.” Durbin was not at the meeting, but he says his source was a White House staffer who briefed him.
The post drew rebukes from Republicans, including House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who said no such statement was made. Though the White House quickly said the information was wrong, Durbin had declined to remove the post until Monday.
“They gave me a bad quote and then they said it didn’t occur,” Durbin said Monday, speaking to reporters after he and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) spoke to a civic group about immigration reform in Chicago. “Now it’s history, it’s behind us.”
The White House says the misunderstanding originated when White House officials gave Senate Democrats a summary of a meeting Obama had held with House Republicans.
“There was a miscommunication when the White House read out that meeting to Senate Democrats, and we regret the misunderstanding,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said, adding that the quote was not accurate.
Durbin said Monday that there was never any misunderstanding, at least not on his part. He also said when a “staffer in the White House” told him and other senators about the meeting, he found the comments so “earth-shattering” that he wrote them down verbatim.
Durbin, one of the president’s most loyal defenders, said when the White House admitted it had “misled members of Congress,” he posted that on his Facebook page. But he was not about to take down the original post, at least not for a while.
“If I’d have raced to take it off, you [the media] would have done that story too: `Durbin races to take this off.’ I wanted to put into context how I got into this situation,” he said.
Durbin said Monday that he’s now satisfied that it’s clear he didn’t make up the quote. Within a couple of hours, the only evidence of the dispute was a Facebook post in which Durbin expressed his appreciation for “this clarification from the White House.”