Reporting Jay Levine
(CBS) — The White House on Thursday issued an apology for throwing one of the President’s closest allies under the bus.
A presidential spokesman said earlier this week that Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin’s claim that a Republican congressman had insulted Barack Obama was just plain wrong.
CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine says it turns out it’s the White House that was wrong.
They gave Durbin and other Senate Democrats incorrect information about what happened during a meeting aimed at ending the government shutdown. On his Facebook page, Durbin claimed one GOP congressman flat-out insulted the President and said, “I cannot even stand to look at you.”
Presidential spokesman Jay Carney said that’s not the case.
“I looked into this and spoke with somebody who was in that meeting, and it did not happen,” he said.
“Did anyone from the White House speak to Sen. Durbin about it?” a reporter asked.
“My understanding is that — again, from a participant at that meeting — that it did not happen,” Carney said.
A spokesman for Durbin responded by saying the senator “stands by his comments.”
Durbin even sent out a fund-raising email, using the comment as part of an effort to attract campaign contributions.
Doug Truax, who’s planning to run against Durbin next year, says the incumbent “needs to return every cent he’s raised off this dubious claim until he can verify it is true.”
Thursday, the White House took the blame.
“What I can tell you is that there was a miscommunication when the White House read out that meeting to Senate Democrats, and we regret the misunderstanding,” Carney said.
In other words, the Republican lawmaker never said what the White House told Durbin he said.
A spokesman for Durbin said the Facebook post would be changed to reflect the White House about-face.
Durbin himself, though vindicated, is staying well clear of the line of fire, reportedly on the West Coast and unavailable to reporters.