Rep. Pete Sessions named as man behind contested Obama insult

A new report finds that Harry Reid shared the story of Sessions' telling Obama "I cannot even stand to look at you"

By Elias Isquith
Published October 24, 2013 4:20PM (EDT)
Pete Sessions       (AP/J. Scott Applewhite)
Pete Sessions (AP/J. Scott Applewhite)

Despite the White House's insistence that the whole brouhaha is a "misunderstanding," the Huffington Post reports that it was Texas Republican Pete Sessions who, during the negotiations over the government shutdown, told President Obama, "I cannot even stand to look at you."

The Huffington Post's reporting, which is based on conversations with two unnamed senators, outlines quite the game of D.C. telephone: According to HuffPo, the story likely reached Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin through Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who in turn heard about it first from a White House staffer who was present at the time.

Harry Reid then told his caucus about Sessions' flap. According to the report, Reid said that the president's response to Sessions was a "dignified" recognition that the two men held vastly different beliefs.

More from the Huffington Post:

Sessions spokeswoman Torrie Miller said Thursday that the lawmaker never made those comments.

“He did not,” Miller said. “I think it was made clear yesterday from Jay Carney that the exchange you are referring to did not happen.”

Brendan Buck, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), has been demanding an apology from Durbin.

“Senator Durbin’s accusation is a serious one, and it appears to have been invented out of thin air," Buck said in a Wednesday statement. "The senator should disclose who told him this account of events, retract his reckless allegation immediately, and apologize."

But Durbin isn’t backing down from his original claims.

"Sen. Durbin stands by his comments," Durbin spokesman Max Gleischman told HuffPost Wednesday.

A request for comment from Carney was not returned, nor was a request for comment from a spokesman for Reid.

Elias Isquith

Elias Isquith is a former Salon staff writer.

MORE FROM Elias IsquithFOLLOW eliasisquithLIKE Elias Isquith

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Dick Durbin Harry Reid Obama Pete Sessions Politico The Huffington Post