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. An American

    The truth is hard to face, especially for the White House.

    May 28, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  2. Ross former AF Captain

    Sit Down Stand UP. 2+2=5

    You pathetic Bush PIGs. I hope your administration falls apart and you are tried for more than 4000+ deaths of Brave Americans.

    I voted with my feet and left your silly pathetic war. Obama is the only choice we have. I LOVE my country and you Mr. Bush work to destroy it. You sick liar.

    – Former Air Force Captain.

    May 28, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  3. Dems Unite!!!

    Actually, what's total crap is the way this administration has run this country into the ground. Mr. McClellan now had more credibility than anyone still in the administration because he had the guts and the conscience to look back and realize all the things that really went wrong. If the white house thinks there going to spin this there more nuts than I thought. With a 22% approval rating the country is going to believe Mr. McClellan over someone in the administration any day!!!

    May 28, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  4. Billiam the Kid

    We all know what he said was true, but lets face it, we already knew this.

    May 28, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  5. fpjv

    I put McClellan in the same category as Gov Richardson. They took advantage and now they are again taking the opportunity to make money or to position themselves (Richardson) to get something. Judas???

    May 28, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  6. d

    ..and to all those who Clinton supporters who would rather vote McCain than Obama..get ready for 4 more years of the same old crap. This is what you will be voting to continue.

    May 28, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  7. martin

    sounds like mr. bartlett needs to be sitting with bush and cheney ,during their upcoming war crimes trial.[by the way ,obama supporters have been released,to counter hillary clinton's attempt to take her campaign, to the convention.her relentless attacks on the democratic nominee,are dividing the party,and we are now being told to take her campaign down.she can't win ,because all the polls are now showing her losing to mccain ,in the fall.she now has the same negative rating as bush,according to the latest gallup tracking poll.her support has dwindled to a few obsessed women,with their husbands ,who are members of the kkk.

    May 28, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  8. White Independent

    "What did he really believe when he was serving as press secretary?" Bartlett asked – What he wrote in his book you moron. Finally some proof of what I've been saying since we invaded Iraq. Bush knowingly and purposefuly lied to the American people to try to make up for Cheney, Rumsfield and Bush seniors screw up of putting Hussein in charge. For decades they were fine with Hussein killing and raping as long as he did what he was told to do which was to kill Iranians.

    May 28, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  9. David Newport, OR

    “Naturally the common people don’t want war. But after all, it is the
    leaders of a country who determine the policy, and it’s always a
    simple matter to drag people along whether it is a democracy or a
    fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship.
    Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of
    the leaders. This is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are
    being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and
    for exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every
    - Hermann Goering, Hitler’s Reich Marshall, at the Nuremberg
    Trials after World War II.

    Isn't it amazing how easily history can repeat itself? Denounce the nay-sayers!!! Hail to those that protect the US!!!

    May 28, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  10. Internet Argument Winner

    I like their standard answer: "It doesn't sound like McClellan"

    What they are saying its somebody who is pretending to be McClellan wrote the book and it's all lies.


    Good job Scott, the beehive is buzzing all over the place now.

    May 28, 2008 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  11. Wayne, Greenville TX

    Based on the reactions I've heard today from KKKarl Rove, Rusk Limbaugh, local talk show host and occasional Rush substitute Mark Davis, and now Dan Bartlett, Scott McClellan simply MUST be telling the truth...

    May 28, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  12. Women for Obama

    Oh yeah, Obama will never be able to beat McCain in the general election. We all love the Bush administration and can't wait for 4-8 more years of it!

    May 28, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  13. Michael I Hastings Minnesota

    ""AMW" reply , At least 50% of the voting pubplic are that stupid , we can thank the stupids ones and the one issue voters and the ones that no matter what there Bush men for giving this imbicle a second term

    May 28, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  14. Lorna, NY

    I believe Scott McClellan.

    May 28, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  15. Mary

    Barlett stated the McClellan book was a violation of trust. It sounds like the "good ole boys'" just wanted to keep their lies and distortions secret. There was no investigative journalism into the Iraq War issue and those in the administration who tried to speak out were told to keep quiet and if they did speak out, were demoted. The Bush Administration has been more secret than any other, I believe. They did not believe in an open government. The intelligence was cherry-picked to come up with the conclusions that an invasion was necessary.

    May 28, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  16. Mister Anderson

    Total Crap perfectly summarizes my opinion of George W. Bush, his administration, his enablers in the media and Democratic Congress, and John McCain who wishes to continue his third term.

    May 28, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  17. Amit NYC

    What about the TRUST of the American People that this Republican Party completely DESTROYED! Thanks for the absolute misery GOP. May God Bless and Protect America from Republican lunatics. Throw them all out and send a loud and clear message.

    May 28, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  18. After further review,Texas

    A trust to keep the lies from becoming public?Typical Republican stand.

    May 28, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  19. The Truth

    What do you expect the White House to say that McClellan is telling the truth, ofcourse they are going to come out swinging, But we have to ask ourselves this question, Why would a Bush Loyalist come out with such revelations? I Believe he is a man of conscience and he could not sit by any longer while watching Bush getting away with invading another country based on a Lie.

    I have lost all trust in the Republican Party.

    May 28, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  20. Dr. Charlie, University of Texas

    Yes, We all had an out of body experience when Dick and Bush DENIED they ever linked Al Qaeda with Saddam.

    May 28, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  21. Antonio, Tempe AZ

    So we have to wait until Bartlett puts out his tell-tale book to get the real accusations then?

    May 28, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  22. What?

    AZM left out all Clinton allegations...oh, I forgot. She's just a victim of the sexist media. She's a saint.

    May 28, 2008 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  23. barackobama4prez

    He's not a totally different person...he just turned on them. I hope others follow his lead.

    May 28, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  24. Z, St. Louis

    If McClellan had such ethical reservations, then why did he do that
    job? He got that job because he's a suckup and a good liar on
    camera. Just like every other "press secretary". They are professional
    liars. Bartlett does have a point (it pains me to type that),
    that he should have known that part of his job was to go out to that
    podium,on a daily basis,and lie and cajole the press. Why didn't he do the patriotic thing and quit and blow the whistle on all of the fiascos of Bush and his minions when it would have made a difference?
    McClellan had the oppertunity to be a real patriot and expose the
    destructive lies that led the country into a war. But he didnt do it.
    Being patriotic is more than cheesy slogans and standing at
    a podium and lieing becuse of blind devotion to a leader or party.
    It's standing up and exposing corruption and lies of those leaders
    to the entrire country..Fewer slogans and flag magnets and more
    standing up to authority would do this country a lot of good..

    May 28, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  25. True

    Trust Goes Both Ways...

    The Bush Admin threw McClellan under the bus, looks like he's returning the favor. Will he be asked to testify against them in the future? Please, say YES...

    May 28, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
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