A follow-up to yesterday’s post. Turns out Reid wasn’t at the meeting where Sessions allegedly said this, of course, and neither were the two Democratic senators who relayed what he said to HuffPo. Go figure.
You trust a guy who once accused the other party’s presidential nominee of not paying his taxes based on the word of a mystery source whom he’s steadfastly refused to name, don’t you?
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) let his Democratic caucus know last week in a private meeting that a top House Republican told President Barack Obama, “I cannot even stand to look at you,” according to two Democratic senators who were present, and confirmed by two Senate Democratic aides who said they independently learned of the exchange from two other senators…
The alleged incident took place in the throes of the government shutdown, when Obama was meeting with different factions of lawmakers to try to find a resolution to the debacle. [A] White House aide told Democratic leaders that the lawmaker who couldn’t stand to look at the president was Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas), the chairman of the House Rules Committee, the two senators told HuffPost.
One of the two Democratic senators who spoke to HuffPost said that Reid told the caucus about the incident last Tuesday and named Sessions. He also told the caucus that he was “sorry” to have to tell them about it, per this senator, but gave Obama credit for his “dignified” response to Sessions. Reid reportedly told the caucus that Obama responded to Sessions by saying he understood that they disagreed on many issues and he respected their differences.
Sessions was indeed one of the House Republicans who met with Obama on October 10, but both he (“We’re all working together now”) and the White House (which described the meeting as “good”) seemed pleased afterward with the result. If Sessions said what he’s accused of saying, it’s awfully strange that Team Hopenchange didn’t leak that themselves, after negotiations between O and the GOP fell apart, given how well it dovetails with their caricature of Republicans being motivated chiefly by personal dislike of the president. As it is, we’ve got three potential liars here: The mystery White House aide who told Reid what Sessions supposedly said; Reid himself, who might have willfully distorted what the aide said to smear Republicans; or Jay Carney, who sides with Sessions and other House Republicans in denying that anything like this happened. The liar can’t be Carney, I think, just because he has no motive to lie. Even if he’s reluctant for whatever reason to name Sessions as the culprit, he could say something vague like, “There was one moment where an attendee was disrespectful to the president, but both sides continued to negotiate for the good of the American people,” etc. Oddly, I think it’s also unlikely that Reid is the source of the lie because there’s no obvious reason I know of for him to name Sessions as the mystery Republican unless he really believed it. If you’re going to pick a GOPer to smear, why not smear Boehner or Cantor or former VP nominee Paul Ryan? Sessions seems too random to be an intentional target.
So it must be the White House aide who lied. Or, rather, who “miscommunicated” with Reid:
The White House issued a statement Thursday saying “we regret the misunderstanding” about Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin’s account of a meeting between House Republicans and President Barack Obama.
“While the quote attributed to a Republican lawmaker in the House GOP meeting with the President is not accurate, there was a miscommunication when the White House read out that meeting to Senate Democrats, and we regret the misunderstanding,” a White House official said in an email.
It was not immediately clear who delivered the readout. The White House declined to further elaborate on the issue Thursday.
What possible “miscommunication” could there be to give Reid the false impression that a House Republican had insulted Obama to his face? The aide must have been knowingly lying, which makes this new statement nothing more than the White House’s attempt to make this mess go away. But then that gets us back to why Sessions, of all people, would be the target of the lie. What’s going on here?