May 28th, 2008
03:30 PM ET
15 years ago

Bartlett rips McClellan, calls allegation 'total crap'


McClellan and Bartlett worked closely together in the White House. (Getty Images)

Watch Dan Bartlett respond to McClellan at 4 p.m. ET on The Situation Room

(CNN) - Former White House counselor Dan Bartlett lashed out at Scott McClellan in a telephone interview Wednesday, saying the allegations that the media was soft on the White House are "total crap," adding that advisers of President Bush are "bewildered and puzzled" by the allegations in McClellan's new book.

"It's almost like we're witnessing an out-of-body experience," Bartlett said of McClellan. "We're hearing from a completely different person we didn't have any insight into."

Bartlett added that intimates of the President feel McClellan has violated his trust. "Part of the role of being a trusted adviser is to honor that trust," said Bartlett. "It's not your place now to go out" and criticize the President like this.

"What did he really believe when he was serving as press secretary?" Bartlett asked.

While he said McClellan himself has to "answer as to motive" for writing the book now, Bartlett said, "I do question his judgment."

Bartlett said the bewilderment stems from "Scott's decision to publicly air these deep misgivings he's never shared privately or publicly" with fellow Bush insiders. "To do it now, through a book, is a mistake," he added.

Bartlett asserted that McClellan did not play a major role in key events, noting that the former aide was serving as deputy press secretary for domestic issues during the run-up to the war in Iraq, raising questions about how McClellan could claim the President used "propaganda" to sell the war.

"I don't think he was in a position to know this," Bartlett said flatly. He said it's "troubling" that McClellan is now "gives credibility to every left-wing attack" on anecdotes that are "either thinly-sourced or not witnessed by him" in the White House.

Bartlett bluntly said it was "total crap" for McClellan to suggest the media was too easy on the Bush administration in the run-up to the Iraq war.

"The problem is the intelligence was wrong," said Bartlett. "But this debate has been conflated into either we lied or on your side the tough questions were not asked. I think the truth is the intelligence was wrong."

On the Hurricane Katrina allegations, Bartlett refused to confirm or deny McClellan's claim that he and Bartlett believed the President should not have flown over New Orleans but were overruled by Karl Rove. "I'm not going to rehash internal deliberations," he said. "We've all acknowledged the whole Katrina experience could have been handled better."

Filed under: President Bush
soundoff (416 Responses)
  1. RSatina

    McClellan is truly a servant for the American people. Bartlett and the rest of the well experienced support group of Pres. Bush have been running the country like a well-oiled mafia organization - pledging allegiance to themselves and there share of the "pie".

    May 28, 2008 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  2. Jerry in Fresno

    The difference between McClellan and Bartlett et al is that McClelllan has a conscience.

    May 28, 2008 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  3. Do you have a real job?

    "Venus," do you have a real job - or do you just collect welfare checks and then spend your days posting garbage on the Internet? For a brief moment , when you actually weren't on EVERY blog, I thought that just maybe your "brilliance" had imploded somewhere in outer space! No such luck, I guess. So keep doing "good" for Obama!

    May 28, 2008 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  4. DR. Colorado

    The Bush administration has never possessed any brilliance to dazzle people with so as the old saying goes if you can not dazzle them with brilliance baffle them with BULL SH........

    May 28, 2008 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  5. Carrie Goodeagle Hayden, Idaho

    Scott McClellan AKA Joseph Goebbels, is still trying to whitewash bush, putting most of the blame on Cheney, and that dirt-bag Rove. The buck stops on bush's desk. Duh! Why isn't someone in Congress starting impeachment proceedings against this war criminals.

    May 28, 2008 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  6. Gary of El Centro, Ca

    What's total crap is the way this administration has been run from day one. Other former insiders have come out of this administration and sounded the alarm, Richard Clark and Paul O'Neil come to mind, and they all get painted as some kind of kook or troublemaker. McClellan is already being characterized in this way.......enough of the B.S. from the Bush can no longer spin your way out of these types of revelations about your methods of running the country. We can all see the truth.

    May 28, 2008 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  7. That's Reality

    HEY EVERYONE – read the 4th to the last post by Marty on the Sudan article: there you have some TRUTH.

    May 28, 2008 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  8. Jeremy Smith

    Whine, whine, whine.....McCain will be the next president and we will continue to fight our enemies overseas and not in your backyard.

    Major Smith

    May 28, 2008 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  9. R Copper

    Why don't you tell us something we don't already know

    May 28, 2008 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |

    Gee Whizzzz!!!!! Too bad McClellan didnt come out with this earlier, but I guess better late than never. I guess he resented the fact that the Bushies made a fool and pawn of him over and over again. Thinking back, I can see how McClellan struggled with delivering the information he was given by the administration–at the time I thought he was just being deliberately evasive.

    May 28, 2008 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  11. Bruce

    So you don't find this is crap. Why is that so hard to believe? If he didn't criticize and stretch the truth, how many copies do you thisnk would sell. So, believe you lies and spend away. I hope all you guys get what you are asking for by voting a Democtat in the office. I'll be the last decision you have to make with Washington handling all of you future decisions.

    May 28, 2008 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  12. Pistoff


    May 28, 2008 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  13. Frank

    What Bartlett is saying is simply McClellan should not tell the truth and keep his mouth shut. Bartlett is an idiot as are the rest of this Administration.

    May 28, 2008 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  14. rexx

    Funny how he only had this "revelation" of honesty when he was trying to sell books. Seems he was the one being dishonest since he did not resign or even SAY ANYTHING against the Iraq war or the like while he was there. I think Scott can now count on the check from the DNC he was promised. But regardless the Dems who are on here to celebrate need to settle down since McCain is going to roll to victory in November. Oh never mind Dems it is cute when you make complete idiots of yourselves so go ahead.....

    May 28, 2008 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  15. Conservative Buyer- CA

    This is the begining of the end for John McCain's "Double Talk Express".

    Thank you John McClellan for being the few Republicans that have a spine to tell the truth. Bartlett is simply another Limbaugh type who still believes that Iraq was the right thing to do.

    May 28, 2008 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  16. Jason

    I find it utterly hilarious that some people claim that the Republicans hold the high ground with national security. After 9/11, the American people willingly held their tongues about partisan issues and gave Bush's administration our permission-he is our employee, not the other way around-and the funds to hunt down Osama bin Laden. That was what we wanted.

    Six years later, bin Laden is still running around, still organizing attacks against people worldwide, while we're stuck thousands of miles away in a country that had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11.

    National security is the Republican party's weakest point. This book only confirms what we already knew.

    Democrats in '08.

    May 28, 2008 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
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