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. Tom

    Who are they kidding? The Presidential press secretary is the chief spin doctor, mouthpiece, and general-purpose liar. IT'S HIS JOB, STUPID!

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

    oooo well bush damaged the country anyways but lets think about mccain now they are both crap and same people. DEMOCRAT08

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

    Tell us something we didn't already know about these lieing hypocrites.

    Obama o8

    May 28, 2008 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  4. Mickey Dean

    whoever the next president is it would be great if they held the
    members of the bush administration accountable for their crimes against the american people.

    oh wait. we save that for getting a lewinski.

    May 28, 2008 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  5. Dan, Washington, DC

    I think McClellan has figured out that Democrats read far more than Republicans do...

    May 28, 2008 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  6. Arkansas Undertaker

    I think we are going to see a lot more of the Bush people coming out against the President before and after he leaves office.

    May 28, 2008 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  7. Nunya

    Make up your minds... If he's violating trust, then that means what he is saying *isn't* total crap. If he's shoveling it high and deep, then there is no violation of trust. You can't have it both ways...

    May 28, 2008 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  8. Andrew

    Scott McClellan basically had to get up in front of the media and the world and lie for years. He had enough loyalty to Bush to do this, but has enough of a conscience to now speak out and tell the truth. I hated this man as press secretary because I knew he was lying, but I respect him for at least now coming forward to tell the truth.

    May 28, 2008 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |

    Sure, after we were expected to believe this guy for years as the President's spokesman, suddenly he's had an "out of body" experience because he broke the code of silence to the inner sanctum. Gosh- we have no idea what he's talking about. This isn't just the first in what will be a long series of tell-all and hopefully indicting exposures of what has really gone on inside the Reichstag.

    May 28, 2008 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  10. Nija

    Truth will always set you free.

    May 28, 2008 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  11. Rob Mack

    Where are all the bush & GOP supporters now. These comments are 99% from free thinkers!! Obama 08!!!!

    May 28, 2008 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  12. Halim

    This whole thing is absurd, i am appalled at the lack of integrity in this adminstration, i am disgusted by the fact that they blatantly flaunt their corruption in our faces, i am infuritated that nobody brings them to justice, and i am dissappointed that the american public just takes it however they want to give it to us. This is 'our' country its time we wake up and let this type of scum know that we do not want nor need them representing us.
    And any imbecile that voted to re elect Bush should be banned from voting ever again, you are as much to blame as this adminstration.

    May 28, 2008 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  13. Drew Williams, Appleton, Wisconsin

    Why buy a book to verify what everyone knows –and all but the furthest rightwing zealots will admit?

    I do love the spin coming from other administration enablers, however ..."What happened to the Scott we all knew?"

    Here's what: the man never was the big-league liar he needed to be, as are Fleischer and Perino, and when he realized he could neither delude himself nor force himself to outright lie, he chose to "spend more time with his family."

    May 28, 2008 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  14. LOL BUSH

    Of course now comes the part to discredit Scott. Typical Whitehouse manuever.

    Bartlett is a PAWN!

    May 28, 2008 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  15. Kenny

    Good ridance!
    Over 4,000 innocent soul lost in a game of iraqmire.................. lost husband,lost wives, lost children and lost future??? What is this equation giving us now in America???

    May 28, 2008 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  16. Jay

    LOL!!!!! Now the Bush administration knows how it feels like to be betrayed.

    May 28, 2008 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  17. Jeff

    Wow! Such hatred. I'm glad to see that you intelligent Dems give as much leeway for Bush as you did for Clinton.

    The media used to fawn over Clinton's team when they put a "spin" on things, but somehow Bush is the anti-Christ.?!?!?!?!? Give me a break. No wonder the Dems haven't cleared 50% in a presidential election in 40+ years.

    May 28, 2008 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  18. Jim Tucker

    It's simple. We've seen this phenomenon before. McClelland attached himself to a prestigious job wherein he would attain fame of a sort and was willing to lie for other liars (George Bush, Cheney, Rove, Libby et al. Now he is cashing in his chips with a few truths (there is more he not saying) and getting book royalties and an opportunity to clear his conscience a bit – if indeed he has one.

    He is as guilty as the folks he condemns and should stand trial with the rest of this gang that has caused the death of hundreds of thousands of people including our soldiers, Iraqis, and Afghans - not to mention the tens of thousands who have suffered terrible injuries.

    Jim Tucker
    Austin, TX

    Jim Tucker
    Ausstin, TX

    May 28, 2008 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  19. Tony




    May 28, 2008 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  20. J.W. of Mississippi

    There is enough blame to go around but, Mr. McCellan makes a very significant point that the MEDIA should bear a large amount of the BLAME. CNN, FOX, NBC, ABC, CBS and the rest covered our run up to war in the most amateurist fashion I have ever witnessed. All of the so called Journalist only function was to serve as a mouthpiece for the administration. BUSh and his boys intimidated all of you and forced you to report exactly what they wanted you to say. Members of the media should understand that one of their most important roles is to bring out the truth & serve as a buffer between the Government and the public. I Hope that all of you so called journalist see the faces of the 4,000+ American Men & Women every night and wonder if they would be alive "IF I HAD DONE MY JOB".
    I agree with so many of you there are no surprises for those of us that didn't get caught up in the fog of fear.
    George "The Clown" Bush is attempting to start another war in Iran; will the media allow this stupidity to proceed without asking the proper questions?

    May 28, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  21. Scott ATL

    The Bush Administration kills me... Trying to act Thank you for telling the truth finally Scott...

    Everyone with any sense knew what was being planned the day after September 11th, 2001. If you're surprised by this, you're either in 3rd grade, or a foolish idiot...

    May 28, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  22. Bill

    Why do all the Bushies teeing off on Scott seem to be reading from the same script? "Out of body experiences", "not the Scott I know", "something must be wrong with him". Sheesh, Scott should thank his lucky stars he escaped the Bush Cult when he did.

    May 28, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  23. Independent

    Bartlett added that intimates of the President feel McClellan has violated a trust. "Part of the role of being a trust adviser is to honor that trust," said Bartlett. "It's not your place now to go out" and criticize the President like this….
    This is BULL!
    As an American, my TRUST is to this country and not to the President for he is not above the law. unfortunately GW and his cohorts think they are.
    Spill your guts Scott. The American people deseve better.

    May 28, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  24. Sammy

    If McClellan doesnt have some kind of factual information to back up his allegations then how do we know what is truth and what is not? As unpopular as Bush is this is still America and people should be judged on the facts. Unfortunately people tend to put a lot of credence when they are told what they want to hear. Skepticism is a healthy thing. Too bad Bush and most senators in 2003 had little or none of it.

    May 28, 2008 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  25. lafnjim

    loyalty. Judas sold out for 30 pieces of silver.
    mcclellan sold out for a book deal. i hope he
    sells books.
    the president has done a great job in the white house.
    he is honorable and has been a capable commander
    in chief.
    what i see is the evil and possessed democrats
    that cannot stand truth and honesty.
    they are so screwed up on hate!
    we have not been attacked since 9/11.
    oil is high because of greedy commodity traders.
    iraq will be a great example of democracy in time.
    the US did not overnight become a great nation!

    May 28, 2008 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
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