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. Jonathan

    I find it completely ironic that the vast majority of posters on here are taking Scott's book as the gospel truth – without even reading it or thinking about his credibility! He admits that he lied in the past, but now he is telling the truth. How convenient for him to leak crucial information about his book right before it hits the stands and before the White House can even read and provide a response. Talk about the majority drinking the Kool-Aid!

    The guy is a pushing his own book to make some cash. Take it as you will.

    May 28, 2008 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  2. Teresa- charlotte, nc

    Every dog has its day. and today is George W. Bush. And I hope all the preachers who did everything but tell the parisaners to vote for him get exposed to. George Bush is great at deceiving. He deceived all the military who is sacraficing their lives as we do everyday. I believe this is an insult to all the servicemembers at war and serve. Will the real George Bush please stand up. This is the year of uncover...and all things shall be revealed.

    May 28, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  3. IVAN

    One of your own tells the TRUTH and it HURTS.
    Let's hope the there are more like McClellan out there who are willing to come forth and tell the American People about the lies and cover ups by Bush, his administration and the Republicans.

    May 28, 2008 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  4. Brian from Fort Mill, S.C.

    McClellan is not full of total crap. Bush is full of total crap.

    May 28, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  5. Shelagh

    What a pity Scott McLellan didn't speak out at a time when It might have made a difference. It would have taken a lot of courage–and likely a job loss, to say the least–but what is the point of telling us now what has become distressingly clear anyway?

    May 28, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  6. Phillip Bunn , Bailey NC

    And what if it's not!!

    May 28, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  7. Dave

    Come now Mr. Bartlett, can you really guarantee us that you won't be singing the same song as Mr. McClellan when they hand down your indictment?

    May 28, 2008 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  8. Gary - Oregon

    I expect that Mr. McClellan's book is only the first of many that will be telling the Bush story from the inside. He's just a few months early as the Bush administration clears the White House and others come forward with more of the real story of what has happened over the past 8 years. I expect the truth will support the negative feelings that the majority of Americans have about what this administration has done to our country.

    May 28, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  9. Willie Downs

    History will view this administration very favorably. In eight years, there has been very little scandal. For McClellan to say that Scooter Libby, who was the VP's Chief of Staff, very seldom met with Rove, the President's main advisor, is by itself a very naive commentary. The fellow has absolutely no credibility. He is just trying to sell a book. I hope he has a spouse with a good job.

    May 28, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  10. FreshAir

    "Total crap"

    Funny, that's what we've been saying about the Bush administration for years.

    May 28, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  11. Seattle for Obama

    What would you do to keep your job?

    It seems like the local, nation and dot-com news-stations report on the variety every day. I don't feel bad for the schmuck, but I still believe him.

    I'd lie to you and any stranger I came across, in order to make sure my mortgage is paid and my kids are fed.

    Sadly, other people in this administration will lie for a lot more than keeping their jobs. A lot of them would lie to bring us into war and then continually feed us bogus information via their talking-heads in order to get what they "need".

    May 28, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  12. Jamaal Kansas

    More lies from the Bush Adminstration what a load of crap. Thanks to guy that finally told some truth about the Lying Bush's and of course the People in the White House is going to deny this that was the samething he used to get paid for to lie to the Public Sometimes Enough is Enougn Obama 08

    May 28, 2008 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  13. I have a goldfish

    I believe Bartlett. It's ridiculous that McClellan would come out in this way. McClellan is tearing our party and our country apart with this act. If President Bush would not have had back-stabbing insubordinates working under him, perhaps he would be more popular, AND we would have won the war in Iraq. This makes me sick! I can't believe all of you are backing McClellan when you know darn well that this is not the way to go about disagreements...trying to make a buck by betraying your countrymen.

    May 28, 2008 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  14. Harry Doghiny

    Looks like the Bushies are restless. Good job, Scott.

    May 28, 2008 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  15. usa

    ========how come no one has the guts to impeach bush??=====

    ========democrats have no back bones========

    40,000 of americans are dead.
    100000 (maybe more) of iraqs are dead.

    gas is gonna reach $10.00 by end of the year.

    and Stupid people still want hill clinton and mcain??!!!

    no wonder the entire world knows americans are idiots.

    May 28, 2008 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  16. Rob San Jose

    Good job, Scott. Wish this would have gotten out sooner, but better late than never. The criminals finally being exposed from the inside.

    May 28, 2008 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  17. christina

    "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."

    Is it a mistake because now he can tell us what really went on, rather than telling you first and having you discredit him and feed him lies, too? Stop creating a double standard for yourself. You can lie to the American people but he can't expose the truth? If McCain gets elected, I'm moving to Canada. Or maybe Mexico, since it's warmer.

    OBAMA 08

    May 28, 2008 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  18. j-unit

    where in this article did it mention anything about the Clintons? I might have missed that part. Will you people focus on the real problem. The Bush administration?

    May 28, 2008 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  19. dennisk

    Sure, Scott was a paid liar for Bush and his gang, but better late than never, I guess.
    Wish the rest of the Bushies would see the light. How anyone can continue to defend this most immoral and inept steward of our great country is unfathomable. It's not too late to impeach, and then onto the war crimes trial. If anyone ever deserved to rot behind bars for the rest of his pathetic life, it's W.

    May 28, 2008 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  20. Irwin,Thousand Oaks, CA

    So all the rats are abandoning the ship!! Better late than never!!

    May 28, 2008 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  21. Robert Bauer, Sonoma County, CA

    This is just the beginning of the "Great Outing." The truth tellers will finally be able to remove the presidential duct tape from their mouths. I expect that by the time they're all done, this administration will go down in history as "total crap."

    May 28, 2008 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  22. Steven

    I think McClellan is a big loser and who knows who got him to write this story. I have never seen a president so disrespected in my life. Yes, he has made a lot of mistakes but he is still the president and we should have some respect for the position and person. Do you think Obama, Hillary, Gore, or even Kerry could have done better. I just don't believe that. It is such a shame that our country is this divided over this. I just hope the next president can please most of the folks out there that are so bitter right now. It doesn't help this country at all!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 28, 2008 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  23. Jeff in Alabama

    Thank you George for standing up and speaking about what you observed in the White House. Can't say it brings much surprise to most Americans. Just great to actually hear someone whom knows first hand about the Bush blunders speak it publically.

    May 28, 2008 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  24. Dave

    whatever Michelle. you claim the GOP have no the Dems have cornered the market on it. that's so ludicrous. and I'm a Dem, but these are politicians we're talking about.

    May 28, 2008 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |

    Bush Obama A Substantive Comparison
    President Bush 2000 and Senator Obama 2008 have run very similar campaigns highlighting change and minimizing inexperience.

    May 28, 2008 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
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