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. .OBAMA

    Hillary Clinton did say “it takes a village”, and she is right. However, it only took one village idiot by the name of Obama to split the democratic party by declaring racial warfare against those who oppose him.

    May 28, 2008 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  2. Sharon Minnesota

    It's a good thing the CIA doesn't have any control to edit Scott's book like they did with Valeries. Bush should have claimed state secrets on Scott's book like he does with everything else..haha

    May 28, 2008 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  3. Terry

    What do you expect Bartlett to say?

    What do you expect Fran Townsend to say?

    Most of the country already knew this, with the exception of the 23% who approve of Bush and his gang.

    Just another confirmation.

    May 28, 2008 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  4. for realsies

    With all due respect Mr Bartlett, as an advisor to the president your first loyalty is to the Office of the President, not the Person of the President. When the Person of the President dishonors and misleads the People, who the Office represents........

    May 28, 2008 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  5. JT

    The "trust " relationship for any White House official should be with the American people, not an individual - even the president. What Bartlett is expousing is a rationale for racketeering and conpiracies.

    Should a bank robber get special consideration for not testifying against a ring leader because of his role as a "trust adviser?"

    May 28, 2008 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  6. Anonymous

    Guys like Bartlet and all the Bush cronies are the scourge of this country.
    They lie to protect themselves even when they know those lies have caused the lives of 4000 + young American soldiers. Then you have the Iraqi citizens, men women , and children, who have been killed or maimed and for what? WHAT? There is going to be a time, and soon I hope, when the world will know the truth about these arrogant self serving pigs and decide a fate that is fitting for the atrocities they helped create.

    Obama 08!

    May 28, 2008 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  7. Raz

    Still trying to defend.

    May 28, 2008 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  8. blueken

    I remember Scott discussing Iraq at press interviews. I also think he did a pretty good job of spinning for Bushy, but that was his job. Sometimes you are asked to do stuff at work you are un-comfortable with. When it gets to be too much, you quit. That's what he did.

    May 28, 2008 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  9. Eleanor

    Just another Bush puppet running out to put a facade up about what really went on there the last 8 years
    Americans have the blinders off now fool..
    Hats off to Scott for telling the truth and having a conscience!!

    May 28, 2008 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  10. eddie

    If someone in the Bush Administration calls it total crap, it's probably pure gold.

    May 28, 2008 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  11. Oregon

    Bartlett sounds like a tobacco company executive, with this pretending to be baffled. Reason why this happened is obvious – Bush Administration didn't tolerate dissent. Its advisers were all yes-men. McClellan was intimidated in silence until now.

    May 28, 2008 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  12. Jeff D, South Bend, IN

    Where there is smoke Danny-boy – there is fire.

    Plus the strangely viscious reaction from the White House is a bad case of "doth you protest too much"...

    May 28, 2008 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  13. sheryl

    Thank you Realistic!!! you said it all

    May 28, 2008 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  14. Lizzy in TX

    First of all, someone will have to read the book and tell George W about it because we all know he's never actually read a book himself in his entire life– well, maybe Mad Magazine.

    All the lemmings who bought into the Bush boondoggle will deny McClellan's comments in his book. But I've been saying since 2001 that this administration was nothing but a bunch of hucksters, liars, & manipulators. Thank God Bush will be gone in another 6 months, but I'm not sure we're facing anything much better. McCain sure won't be any better... I just have a nagging uneasy feeling he's no more trustworthy than Bush. And Obama doesn't appear to be any brighter than Bush... I think he may care more, but he's just such a neophyte that I don't think he has the experience or ability to take on such a huge role just yet. And Clinton has the experience and the toughness, but she's got a lot of detractors who will be trying to make life difficult for her. But of the three, I think our best option is still Clinton.

    Now if my alma mater. SMU, would just wise up and tell Bush to take his Presidential library and hit the road, I would certainly feel better about that!!! What an oxymoron– a library for a man who obviously can barely read. What's he going to put in it?? Surely not documents that would ultimately show us what a liar & inept nitwit he was during his terms in office!!

    May 28, 2008 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  15. Bill

    Stay strong Scott, they are coming for you. I admire your courage and believe everything you say.

    May 28, 2008 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  16. Vig

    Sorry, but this book just articulates what has been obvious to the whole country for the last 8 years. The corrupt Bush administration sending thousands to their graves – Bush not only should be impeached (it's not too late), he should also be tried for crimes against humanity along with Rice, Rumsfeld and Cheney and they should all spend the next 10 years in prison.

    May 28, 2008 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  17. deebee, clearwater florida

    McClellan doesn't come out looking good either. But blinded by the power of the White House himself. He lied in the press briefings. Kinda suprising to see him change his tune. Probably just the start of an avalanche of "contrition" books by former admin staffers. Will the Bush library find room for them?

    May 28, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  18. Bill

    Bartlett is probably just mad that McLellan's book came out before his own, which will eventually come out. Just seven months until Scooter Libby's Pardon !

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

    Circle the wagons Barlett.; ye protests too much! The irony, when the adminstration spins their tales, invariably the truth is validated down the road. The one thing I can critisize McClellan is: why did you take the job in the first place and become W's spinmeister?


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

    Wow, MAC confirming the President is a liar and that the BUSH SHEEP are nitwits. What earth shattering news. I wouldnt pay a dime for his book. My son will probably steal it from Borders', I may read some of it then.

    May 28, 2008 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  21. R.O.B.

    So in other words, what the Republicans really believe is that u should be loyal to your base even when the situation is wrong. It's all coming together now. So, Scott Mcclellan is out of line when he stands up and tells the truth about how the Bush Administration lied to the American public and manipulated events for their own personal and political benefit? No, I think he is right. I think his time away from the White House really gave him time to think back and reflect independtly on things that transpired while he was there. As a result he's no longer brainwashed and now he's thinking clearly.

    May 28, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  22. That's Reality

    Not surprising this book would come out at such a convenient time. McClellan should have at least voiced his complaints earlier to those he accuses now. There was no risk as he hasn't been press secretary for a loooong time. This will come back to bite him because it's obvious he's doing it to make money and discredit one of the BEST (yeah, I'm proud to be one of the, so called, 27%) presidents we ever had. History will play out to prove it if the liberals get their way and push for more of their decadent legislation. Good grief, at least Bush has the character to not desecrate the White House with adultery; but then I guess a lot of liberals would say what's wrong with adultery? God have mercy.

    May 28, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  23. Sukie on the River

    It's ALL "total crap."

    Even Obama succumbs to dishing it out on occasion, even though he promised to stay above the frey.

    Don't get your hopes up with any of them, even my candidate Hillary Clinton, whom I will write in in November, gets immeshed in drivel.

    May 28, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  24. Ralph

    "Total crap". Now is that any way to talk about a fellow Republican?

    May 28, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  25. L. Menezes

    This is an answer to our prayers. Just wait and watch how things will turn around 180 degrees. Even God in heaven is disgusted with the bullies in the White House and taken matters in His hands. Judgement is already knocking at their doors.

    May 28, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
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