A claim from the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), drew denials from House Republican leadership and the White House on Wednesday.
Durbin claimed in a weekend Facebook post that a House GOP leader told President Barack Obama that the leader “cannot even stand to look at” him during a recent negotiation over the government shutdown and raising the nation’s debt ceiling.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said, flatly, that the exchange “did not happen.”
A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner was baffled by Durbin’s allegation.
“The Speaker certainly didn’t say that, and doesn’t recall anyone else doing so,” Michael Steel, Boehner’s spokesman, said in an email Wednesday morning.
Brendan Buck, also a Boehner spokesman, released a statement after Carney’s remarks.
“Senator Durbin’s accusation is a serious one, and it appears to have been invented out of thin air,” Buck said. “The senator should disclose who told him this account of events, retract his reckless allegation immediately, and apologise.”
Durbin didn’t provide any specifics on the conversation, or identify the member in question. Obama met with House Republicans, Senate Republicans, House Democrats, and House Republicans separately during the shutdown on multiple occasions.
The full Facebook post from Durbin:
Many Republicans searching for something to say in defence 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.”
What are the chances of an honest conversation with someone who has just said something so disrespectful?
Durbin’s office didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment, both before and after the White House denial.
This post has been updated.