May 28th, 2008
03:30 PM ET
14 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. Amazed

    Good Bushie Dan Bartlett to the rescue. The facts matter not, it's just the facts as we can make them appear. Nice job Dan!

    May 28, 2008 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  2. Ilene

    He's not lying. Only a idiot would think so. I knew all of this without a book. I am proud to have voted Democratic. Republicans should be ashamed. Over 4000 of our sons dead...for what??

    May 28, 2008 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  3. Carol

    I believe what McClelland says, but I think he is a weasel for doing this now.

    We all know the Iraq war was a mistake. We are not hearing anything new. I'm sure the families of the thousands of soldiers killed in Iraq will be comforted to know that Mr. McClelland is profiting by squealing now, instead of speaking up when it could have made a difference.

    May 28, 2008 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  4. Ron

    I distinctly recall a television clip in which Bush, at a public "photo op" event, chats with a female participant and says "You got to get the propaganda out there." Scott's book tends to clarify what he meant by that comment.

    May 28, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  5. HTA, Chicago, IL

    I want to read this book now that it's out and I have no serious doubts about McClellan's account. However, there is something to be said about keeping private conversations private. I'm not sure if it's as black and white as people want to make it.

    May 28, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  6. Nick D

    Everyone complaining about the bush administration look in the mirror. He was elected to a second term! You have nobody to blame, but yourselves.

    May 28, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  7. Stella, PA

    Sounds like Bartlett is trying to save face. You don't become the worst president in modern history without telling lies and relying on henchmen to tell the lies for you.

    Kudos to McClellan for having the backbone to tell the truth. At least there's one name that won't be included on the dishonorable list.

    Bush is a crook and so is his henchmen/women.

    May 28, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  8. John

    We all will belive Scott Mclean Over Liar Bush any day, we already knew all this stuff any way, now we just had it confirmed from the insider, Its all right though Bush and Cheney will stll serve after this just in Federal prison, and even thats too good for them. Liars, cheats and war profiteers. Treasonous war mongers. Rove don't worry your included too, you should be right next to them two. Scott can go to his grave with a clean conscience, something Bush, Cheney Rumsfeldt and Rice don't know what that is. Killing 4000 of or young men so they can make a profit. You people really got some nerve.

    May 28, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  9. 3 Stars & 2 Bars anyone surprised?

    May 28, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  10. James

    Of course it is crap to Bartlett as he is up to it to his neck. Of course McClellan is not the same one they knew as he is not lying for them any more. Sure hope McClellan got a good body guard and does not go hunting with Cheney. This White House is not fond of truth telling.

    May 28, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  11. NickNas

    This is a Beautiful sight to these BUSH Tired eyes.

    All of the Rats are turning against their Master before he leaves office and gets exposed! Better to break for it now before he no longer has the power to PARDON all of these criminals like he has sheltered or commuted them thus far.

    Soon people VERY SOON they will no longer have ANY Executive powers and excuses or people to hide behind.

    May 28, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  12. E. C., Houston, Texas

    where's my comment?

    May 28, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  13. OH

    The worst administration since this nation was founded. Out founding fathers are ashamed at what this country has come to.

    Crap in and crap out but the ones talking crap are the same ones who fooled millions.

    May 28, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  14. Mike from Westchester

    It is obvious that the Bush Administration was not friendly to dissenting viewpoints. When you have a "strong culture" that demands loyalty and forces conformity, you can get "groupthink", a situation where the whole organization goes astray, because either they are all on the same unquestioning page or dissenters are quickly excluded from the team.

    The whole neo-con dominated Administration had an agenda before they even walked into the White House, and invading Iraq was part of their playbook. There was not a lot of thought going on, including consideration of alternatives or contingency plans.

    The entire Bush Administration will become a case study for ineffective leadership and management. The sad part is the entire country will pay for their stupidity for decades to come.

    May 28, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  15. Oregon

    Last time I checked, this was still a free country Mr. Bartlett...Scott can say WHATEVER he chooses! How did you all ever get it into your heads that anyone who speaks ill of the President is a scoundrel???? The mistake Scott made is that he should have stood up to you bullies and done it while it was happening rather than now.

    May 28, 2008 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  16. David B

    Planet Earth calling the Bush Administration - Planet Earth calling the Bush Administration -

    Has any President (or any leader in the free world period) ever had less credibility than George W. Bush? Even Nixon was still respected on foreign policy issues.

    This clown can't leave office fast enough, as far as I'm concerned.

    May 28, 2008 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  17. Ray in Philly

    Oh shock of shock, horror of horrors! Someone who worked inside the administration, when outside the influence and message control that is the status quo of this administration, talks about his experience inside and we're not to believe him?

    Is anyone hearing what he's saying? Propaganda, message control, manipulation of the message, media, and intelligence?

    Throwing McClellan under the bus goes hand in hand and was totally expected from the White House the moment this broke. Does anyone in the White House really think this isn't more of that message control that McClellan is talking about?

    Obviously, he doesn't care about being scapegoated and having his reputation ruined. He already personally feels it was by the mere role of his job as mouthpiece for the propaganda.

    Sheesh – this isn't hard to put together.

    May 28, 2008 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  18. CMitch, FW, TX


    May 28, 2008 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  19. Jack

    Bush Administration definition – Total Crap : the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

    No wonder they hate this book !

    May 28, 2008 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  20. Reality

    THE TRUTH HURTS !!! Scott is coming clean so he can live with himself. Which is great. But Im sure he wanted to make some money too.

    May 28, 2008 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  21. db

    Sounds like McClellan's book has struck a raw nerve, proof positive that the truth hurts.

    May 28, 2008 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  22. Todd A

    What a bunch of gutless wonders we have in the White House.

    May 28, 2008 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  23. Renee

    The rats are circling McClellan. Keep your chin up Scott, you're doing the honorable thing.

    Newsflash: Men and women have died because of Bush's moronic administration. Rove needs to go to jail and Bush and Cheney need to be held accountable. How can they live with themselves?

    Down with Bush and his bogus war.

    May 28, 2008 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  24. Ostriches burying our heads in the sand

    Out-of-body experience???? Do we have 'IDIOT' written on our foreheads or what!!!! Shut up and go away!!!

    May 28, 2008 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  25. joe m

    these responses only strenghten the beleif that the administration is trying to hide the truth. it should be enough for bartlett and others to state that these are mcclelan's beliefs, but they do not agree with them. damage control is best implemented by not letting loose the 'dogs of war', but by calmly stating 'i do not agree'.

    May 28, 2008 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
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