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. Eric

    Well well well...seems like the Republicans have forgotten what Rove did to McClellan's mother when she ran for Governor of Texas in order to protect his precious Governor Goodhair (that's Perry). Do the Bushies really think that someone would be more loyal to Bush than to their own mother?

    May 28, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  2. Michael

    Dan Barlett descibing McClellan's allegations as crap is sort of like a bank robber calling theft a crime. Bartlett has proven to be an accomplshed enabler and co-conspirator, more concered with himself than the good of the country.

    Dan Bartlett should take a good look in the mirror before he critisizes other.

    May 28, 2008 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  3. Ken

    He believed that this administration is a "Load of Crap" and I should take notes because this will make for a good book. That's wht McClellan thought

    May 28, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  4. Randy - Denver

    I understand why the bush administration is "bewildered and puzzled" you see Mr. McClellan is speaking the TRUTh and this is something this administration does not understand, especially from "one of its own".

    May 28, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  5. alex

    We are not stupid, stop lying to us!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 28, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  6. Peace Be With You

    The stupid Republicans have driven this country into the ground. Failed foreign policies, failed domestic policies–finally they're being called to task for all of their corruption.

    You idiots who have voted Republican deserve all the misery this country is in, but the rest of us have to suffer through it with you.

    May 28, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  7. Benjamin from Wyoming

    McClellan DID THE RIGHT THING! He just should have done it a lot sooner! How can you have even a little respect for a corrupt and criminal administration that has broken America's trust? George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Karl Rove (among others) should be tried for treasonous acts including invading another nation resulting in many thousands of innocent soldiers and civilian deaths and injuries, disregarding the law and many other serious indictments. They should be convicted and imprisoned for these acts as our United States Constitution demands it! The Founding Fathers are rolling in their graves about this horror and major blight to our nations' honor. It's time Karl Rove and others called before Congress, took responsibility and appeared before Congress as they have ignored the legal process and snubbed the rule of law.

    May 28, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  8. Miss James if You'

    The thoughts that Scott McClellan expressed, I imagine, are the same as those of a solidier. While you are serving, you would never speak ill of your country or its leadership but that doesn't mean that once your service is over you have to remain silent. It is truly patriotic to now be honest with the American people. Some of us knew this truth already but others are still touting things like the House had no clue what it was getting into when our senators and congressmen voted for this war. We now have confirmation that this was total BS.

    I've never volunteered for military service but my husband, father and grandfather are all war veterans. Contrary to what John McCain might say, I think that I have the right to say...BRING OUR TROOPS HOME NOW

    May 28, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  9. Al

    "What did he really believe when he was serving as press secretary?"

    The Constitution and the American people are two great places to start, Dan.

    May 28, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  10. Two Edged Sword

    Reading these comments is very entertaining. We don't know for certain whether McClellan is being truthful now or not. What we do know is if his book heaped worshipful praise on the Administration then all of you would be calling him a lapdog. It's too convenient to fall into kneejerk agreement when you like someone's opinion and kneejerk disagreement when you don't like their opinion.

    I'm ready for Obama. We all know he is very honest. Unless Jeremiah Wright's forthcoming book says he's a liar.

    May 28, 2008 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  11. Joshua College Station Texas

    Mr. McClellan is doing the right thing by offering his perspective and insight into an administration that has been completely dishonest with the American people and corrupt from the top down. Thank you Mr. McClellan for having the courage to tell the truth. Better late than never.

    All the NeoCon leadership belong in prison for treason and war crimes. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and the rest all violated the trust of the American people. After they are out of office, I hope they are prosecuted for the crimes they have committed.

    May 28, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  12. Geoff L.A.

    Hey Mike (posted at 1:31)

    The price of gas began to rise well before the Dems. took over both Houses. Oil was $33 a barrel when Bush stole the job. Check your history.

    May 28, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  13. Matt-Nebraska

    That pretty well sums it up.

    Crap is what the dems position on everything has been the past 7+ years.

    Scott just decided it was easier to lie then tell the truth.

    Sells more books.

    May 28, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  14. Ken, Pisgah Forest NC

    I thought 28% of the people still supported Bush. Where are they now? Is there anything left of him to stand up for. Only 237 days left; will we make it?

    So far, I haven't heard anyone in the WH disagree with McClellan; they only say that it is out of character or inappropriate. Personally, I think it is long overdue.

    May 28, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  15. Sly in Seattle

    republicans are losers

    May 28, 2008 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  16. Mikey Boy

    I am ready and anxious to read the Scott McClellan book, as it will probably have many similiarities to the Richard Clarke and Paul O"Neill.

    As most of the comments indicate, the American people have ceased believing the Bush administration, and the tactics of attacking the person vs. the issue will not work anymore!!

    May 28, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  17. Phil-Little Rock

    More Bushies drinking the kool aid. What's the flavor, lime denial?

    May 28, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  18. Anne E.

    Intimates of "the President" (loosely used term) feel McClellan's violated a trust??? THREE GUESSES as to exactly WHO has violated a trust, and the first two don't count!!!!
    The stain left in the Oval Office from everything that has transpired between Jan. of '01 through, oh, I don't know....say, FAR WORSE than the other one.....

    May 28, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  19. Obama is the One

    Bush is a lying, thieving war criminal and he nor his administration deserves ANY respect, including this Bartlett guy, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, or ANY of the rest of them.

    You have to love when people are so ignorant and plain out stupid in this country as to vote Bush in for a second term. And these idiotic Republicans still give him a 2/3 approval rating. What a bunch of numskulls!!!!!!! It really is beyond belief!

    May 28, 2008 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  20. Barbara - 65 yr old white female in NC

    I never believed McClellan when he was talking for Bush –

    I believe McClellan now.

    What a load of crap the entire Bush "rule" has been !!!!

    May 28, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  21. Marge Hibbing Mn

    Spin spin spin gee who didn't know they would try to convince the MSM was hard on bush. With all the stuff that has come out just now before he left office, wonder what we will get once he does leave.

    WHAT intelligent, understanding person does not know that bush and his crookies didn't get soft treatment..

    Kinda reminds me of the obama bummer treatment. Every crooked lying thing he has done has been kept hidden.

    May 28, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  22. RC

    This is just small crap. Total crap is: High oil prices

    High oil prices got nothing to do with OPEC but with a bunch of dudes in Wall St profiteering from the forward price of oil .

    If you buy something at an inflated price then you need to add profit and sell it and the price goes up and continues to spiral upwards .

    Why should the price of oil go up if some piddling refinery somewhere in the US has a problem. There is sufficient capacity and it doesn't impact the rest of the world .

    Get rid of all the leeches that suck blood without adding to the economic growth of the country and the whole world will be better off – get rid of all the futures trading and energy exchanges and all the other economic clap trap and get back to supply and demand.

    Start fixing this problem. Then worry about the he said she said BS

    May 28, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  23. Think

    It is now painfully obvious that the decision makers behind the Iraq war participated in deception that resulted in the killing of Iraqi civilians. This is by definition a war crime. Things are going to get really ugly, and I predict several people will go to trial on war crimes charges.

    May 28, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  24. Ironman in CT

    Dick Clarke was the first brave one, now McClellan. Come on Mr. Powell it's your turn to take us down the rabbitt hole.....

    May 28, 2008 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  25. NO OBAMA5

    My quess would be ,if you dig deep, Obamas somehow in the mix!! Why else would obama and his supporters be so POSITIVE he will be president!! Everyone seems to be selling the country out this election.

    May 28, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
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