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. Semper Fi

    adding that advisers of President Bush are "bewildered and puzzled" by the allegations in McClellan's new book.
    Well honestly, who is suprised that this president is "bewildered and puzzeled"?

    May 28, 2008 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  2. Marie-Lynn

    Well said..

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




    May 28, 2008 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  4. Geoff in L.A.

    There is nothing more patriotic than publicly criticizing an Administration that has lied to and misled the American public at every turn. It is telling that the White House is playing the role of victim and crying foul instead of confronting the allegations. Instead they are making it about personal relationships between the President and his advisors. A lie is a lie, regardless of who Bush tells it to.

    May 28, 2008 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  5. Pat

    Bush, Cheney and Rove are liars and should be in jail. McClellan's just providing documentation of all this.

    May 28, 2008 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  6. lenny

    The whole Bush term has been crap

    May 28, 2008 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  7. Wayne

    Mr. Bartlet.... that "out of body" feeling you are experiencing is somtimes referred to as "THE TRUTH". It can be an overwhelming feeling somtimes... especially when you are not used to it. Take two asprin and call me in the morning.

    May 28, 2008 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  8. Matt

    He's trying to make a buck – it's what everybody wants to hear right now – Bush bashing. Only the really dumb would take him seriously. Now if there is anyone who you view in any way viable and credible, look at Frances Townsend, former Homeland Security – now that would make even the level headed take notice....

    ... McClellan? He's a wet noodle looking for an easy buck. (Yawn).

    May 28, 2008 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  9. Wayne, Greenville TX

    Ross former AF Captain May 28th, 2008 1:23 pm ET

    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.

    Three comments, if I may:

    1 – Thank you for your service.

    2 – Thank you for your honesty.

    3 – I join you in grieving for your 4,000 fallen comrades in arms.

    May 28, 2008 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  10. Uncle Sam

    Bartlett is the father of lies and the truth is not in him.

    ***Felix A...***

    Invest in spell check..

    May 28, 2008 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  11. wwf

    If there was ever a President who should be impeached, it is Bush, along with everyone in his administration..Say goodbye to power Republicans. Hope you are proud of your run.

    May 28, 2008 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  12. Louis

    McClellan's actions define true patriotism–devotion to country and not to the corrupt administration.

    May 28, 2008 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  13. WJS

    Regardless of the validity of his viewpoints, he's torpedoed his career. No politician or organization is going to want to hire him if they don't believe they can trust him. I hope, for his sake, he got a lucrative payment on that book. But I do wonder how "true" his accusations are, and how much he needed them to sell an otherwise boring book.

    May 28, 2008 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  14. An American in Canada for David

    I believe the media was TOO SOFT on George W. Bush because of the precarious situation after the 911 attack.

    Just as the media is VERY SOFT on Barack H. Obama because he is an African-American and they did not want to appear being racist...

    But somehow the media is VICIOUS with Hillary R. Clinton because she was a woman; how dare a women think she can be Commander In Chief.

    And the media is controlled by George Soros and the Extreme Left Wing Liberals who want a puppet such as (Obama) in the White House, in order for Soros to control America.

    That will never happen, H.R. Clinton will be the next President and so declare all the Clinton Supporters!!

    May 28, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  15. MC, Maryland

    The chickens are coming home to roost.

    May 28, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  16. cheekbrown

    You see what I mean? Dan Bartlett's words are more proof that free speech is not welcome or even tolerated in the Bush administration.

    May 28, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  17. sewong

    Scott McClean is just coming out clean. He is just comfirming what every body knew.The shock has more to do with his closeness to Bush and the election season.

    May 28, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  18. David

    That moron w ought to be impeached. He was appointed by the supreme court, has tortured people, is a born liar. All of them -each and every one ot them- should be jailed.

    May 28, 2008 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  19. Larry B

    Would Joseph Goebbels deserve any praise if he hadn't killed himself and instead spilled the beans about "the Final Solution" after the damage was done? Exactly, treat this man with contempt. His admissions are worth believing, but don't say "way to go!", because where was his conscience when he was regurgitating LIES? He was a 'yes-man' and a coward and complicit for years. Screw you McClellan, it's way too late!

    May 28, 2008 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  20. Mark

    Denial, anyone?

    May 28, 2008 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  21. Harris

    "Shocked, I tell you...Shocked!"

    May 28, 2008 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  22. Richard

    Whats total crap is the Bush Administration..

    May 28, 2008 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  23. Doug R.

    Whoever this Dan Bartlett is is full of crap himself. If anyone violated trust it would be the Supreme Court appointed George Bush who has been lying to, misleading, and deceiving the American people since the day he took office. I'm disappointed the Democrats haven't moved to have Bush and Cheney impeached for violations of the US Constitution and many US laws.

    May 28, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  24. Chipster

    How on Earth could anyone believe one word from Bush, Cheney, Rove, or any other White House official in this Administration? What I don't understand is how anyone has not seen these corporate thieves for what they are long before now! Their lies and incompetence are record-breaking and breath-taking!

    John Diulio wrote a 5-page letter about the politically motivated Bush White House that saw the light of day for about 3 seconds. He called them "Mayberry Machiavellis."

    Paul O'Neill wrote a book exposing the incompetence. He went on a couple of talk shows and said "I'm old and I'm rich so 'they' can't hurt me." Gee, suddenly he was nowhere to be seen and his book was never mentioned again. What was that all about? Where was the media? Where in the world is O'Neill now? I guess he wasn't as old or rich as he thought.

    How do these people get away with it? Honestly, it's mystifying!

    May 28, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  25. Sue,Texas

    Scott, be glad you worked for Bush-Seems like everyone that knew trash on Bill C is now no longer with us

    May 28, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
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