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)

    Scott McClellan and Babara Walters = Cowards.They wiil do and say anything to sell their books in order to satisfy their pocket. Scott is so shameless. He needs to burry his head in shame for ever for this outragious book of his. SHAME ON YOU LOOSER.

    May 28, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  2. Joe Regis

    This administration along with the
    repubs are rejected by the people.

    Down with Bush and Mcsame.

    No more Bush Republicans Mcain.

    May 28, 2008 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  3. Val

    What really sad about this is that no one will believe Bartlett because of so much hate towards the president and his administration. In my opinion, Scott McClellan wrote the book for money and fame. He knew that the book would sell if he wrote some disgusting left-wing attacks because of president's disapproval ratings.

    May 28, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  4. mike

    The stupidity show by the left-wingers in the comments is t ypical. Hey dummies, the price of gas started to rise only after the clueless Dems took over the majorities in the Senate and the House. It's the Dems you nuts – keep that in mind when you are paying $10 or more for demogas.

    May 28, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  5. Chris from San Antonio

    The only lies Babyhands McClellan is spouting is how he didn't know he was lying before.

    May 28, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  6. Ed, Santa Fe NM

    Bush and his entire rotten administration should be on trial for war crimes.

    Nothing Bush or any of his henchmen say will ever be the truth.

    May 28, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  7. muaddib420

    I find it ironic that by defending themselves, the current administration is proving that they are misguided liars who worship Bush/Rove/Cheney above honesty, duty and patriotism.

    honestly, it reminds me of a cult or something. like they can not see the true from the false until they're out of it. then, upon reflection, they see that they were living in a huge pile of dog dung.

    May 28, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  8. Lara

    More of the same old politics, we need change good change and the old time politics will not help American in the 21st Century. Let the young handle or country they can only do better.

    May 28, 2008 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  9. Carrie Pa

    The cronies are coming out. BS! Impeach Bush and jail the rest!

    May 28, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  10. Ryan

    "It's not your place now to go out" and criticize"

    What is this, the MOB now?

    We don't need this guy telling us BUSH IS THE WORST PRESIDENT OF ALL TIME...but its refreshing.

    May 28, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  11. JR

    "It's not your place now to go out" and criticize the President like this.......NO, it's your place to keep lying as long as necessary. Spoken like to true neo-con Barlett. Keep the lies coming, oh and make sure you keep claiming to be moral while doing it.

    May 28, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  12. DFinFL

    Which White House moron sent Bartlett out to slander McClellan? Could they have choosen anyone with less credibility?

    May 28, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  13. Joe Regis

    However late, at least he stood up
    for the truth.

    Stop being deceitful already.

    May 28, 2008 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  14. Bangus 1er

    "intimates of the President feel McClellan has violated a trust."

    It is a violation of trust to mislead the american people.
    The president swore to uphold the law and the Constitution.

    Loyalty to the Country and NOT to the president

    May 28, 2008 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  15. Uncle Sam

    Although members of the Republican party, Pres. Bush and Sen. McCain are two very different people. The truth is that Sen. McCain opposed the president's execution of the Iraq War from the start, advocating a strategy that risked his presidential chances and has proven correct. In fact, had Sen. McCain's proposal been adopted earlier, in all likelihood the loss of human life and treasure would have been greatly reduced.

    Americans for McCain '08

    May 28, 2008 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  16. Sam, SD

    Tell the truth and shame the devil". The truth shall set you free scott. Thank you.

    May 28, 2008 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  17. RAY IN NJ

    It is so interesting that this book caught all of the Bush insiders by surprise. They are using words like "troubling" and trying to question McClellan's motives. What is most interesting (and most telling) is three little words that I have NOT heard – that is, "He is lying"!
    No one has refuted his allegations. Neither Dana Perino, Dan Bartlett, Karl Rove, V.P. Cheney, Pres. Bush, or anyone have PROVED he's lying, yet alone claimed. Seems to me that if someone was raising falsehoods through a book the first thing I'd do is state, categorically, that he's NOT TELLING THE TRUTH! Has anyone done that so far?
    CNN, you are getting soft!. You are simply stating the spin rather than asking these folks the most important question you need to ask: "Is McClellan lying"?!!!

    May 28, 2008 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |

    man, this is such a huge story. it will have legs all the way to november. say bye bye GOP, it's lights out!

    May 28, 2008 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  19. nic, bellingham wa

    Bartlett's comments illustrate a fundamental illness within this administration.

    The role of a public servant, whether or not he/she is an advisor/consultant to another, is to serve the PUBLIC. It IS his place to "go out and criticize the President like this," especially if he is illuminating facts the public deserves to know about.

    May 28, 2008 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  20. pam Eugene OR

    Typical. They are just trying to shoot the messenger because they don't want the message known.

    May 28, 2008 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  21. DJ, LA, CA

    This makes Nixon seem like a cub scout. Nixon ordered the theft of the Watergate Building.

    Bush/Cheney ordered lies to authorize and vote for WAR to serve their oil/energy industry cronies.

    I am ashamed in this dark hour of American history that people like this lie to make money and the expense of the taxpayers and our blood.

    May 28, 2008 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  22. PSmith


    What ever happened to the integrity of this country..

    Politics is shameful.

    What ever happened to the great heroes of this country like Charles Payne(Obama's uncle you liberated Auschwitz), Rev. Wright, Ayers, Farrakhan...

    This country is not the same anymore...

    May 28, 2008 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  23. Crush Rush

    Let the spin begin Danny boy,just like Rush throwing jesus under the bus for being too liberal just now on his radio show.Its like the Titanic going down and not enough life boats for all the rats.

    May 28, 2008 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  24. James Carville

    Well, you certainly don't sell books that say "I had a good time at my job and nothing interesting happened," or "Everything my boss said was true."

    The guy is cashing in, and in order to do so, you have to make a good story.

    I'm sure some of it is true, some is shaded, and some is outright lies.

    Like anything else.

    May 28, 2008 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  25. Molly Weasley

    You can only wish that people like Scott MCClelland and Colin Powell were more interested in telling the truth during the run-up to the war. Our country would be better off without that multi-billion-dollar albatross hanging around our necks.

    May 28, 2008 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
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