CHICAGO – U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin said Monday he was willing to take down a Facebook post an erroneous statement dating to the federal government shutdown.
Durbin posted on his Facebook page Oct. 20 that at a meeting with President Barack Obama, 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 White House quickly said the information was wrong. Durbin said Monday that he was finally willing to delete the post because the White House has since acknowledged that the mistake stemmed from a miscommunication.
“They gave me a bad quote and then they said it didn’t occur,” said Durbin, speaking to reporters after he and U.S. Sen. John McCain spoke to a civic group about immigration reform in Chicago. “Now it’s history, it’s behind us.”
At the time of the post, Republicans, including the office of House Speaker John Boehner, angrily denied that any such statement had been made. And Obama’s spokesman said what Durbin posted “did not happen.”
The next day, the White House appeared to take responsibility for what it called a misunderstanding that 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.
On Monday, Durbin said 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.
The Illinois Democrat, 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 hours, the only evidence of the dispute was a Facebook post in which Durbin expressed his appreciation for “this clarification from the White House.”