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. Jim

    BREAKING NEWS:::: The Bush Administration reacted with SHOCK & AWE today when it was disclosed that one of their own is now telling the truth.

    May 28, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  2. Uncle Fester

    Total Crap

    That should be the epitaph for this administration

    May 28, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  3. barbara s

    Finally....the truth from inside. Sure wish Colin Powell could also "Man-Up" and speak out......
    I believe Barack Obama.. may be the new face of integrity and honesty
    Pray that he gets in to put us back on track !

    May 28, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  4. Carol in Northern California

    Thank you, Scott. FINALLY what we on the left have been saying for YEARS is validated.

    May 28, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  5. Michael, an independent Canadian

    I am convinced that the old adage, "Good politics is based upon hiding anything that may show the politician as bad" is alive and well.

    It is sad that Republicans, in response to the truth, attack the Democrats!

    I also find it interesting that the White House did not deny the statements made in the book, but were rather puzzled!!

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


    May 28, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  7. Bayou Joe

    8 years and you liberals still can't get over the fact that you lost to
    G.W. Bush. Well get ready to lose again. Your Socialist Democratic Candidate will lose to John Sydney McCain in November.

    Thank you Hillary for exposing this Wolf in Sheeps clothing.

    May 28, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  8. therealist

    One thing is for sure...., McClellan sure knows how to sell his books to the progressive readers!!

    May 28, 2008 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  9. Patrick

    It is about time that someone came clean about the facts leading to a disastrous war with more than 4000 dead soldiers and billions of dollars of debt. Way to go George, take a peaceful financially sound economy and run it into the ground..

    Now we can pour billions of dollars rebuilding Iraq's infrastructure while we suffer with poor roads, unemployment, and homeless Americans. In my opinion this is the worst administration in the history of the republic.

    May 28, 2008 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  10. Pat

    This type of article continues the kind of benefit-of-the-doubt treatment the administration has received over the past 7 years. CNN and other media outlets have an obligation to not simply repeat what the Bush administration says, but to inform its readership whether their claims are correct or false. There are three stories on the political ticker denouncing McClellan's book, which was briefly summarized in a single story. McClellan's accusations are known to be true and are a matter of public record. Why is so much space given to the administration's fabricated and self-serving explanations, and so little to the truth? Enough is enough!

    May 28, 2008 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  11. Donald Gregory

    Let's see... Did John Dean violate a trust?

    May 28, 2008 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  12. No Hil-LIAR-ry No McSame!!!

    If you take an objective view as to how Bush is portrayed in this book, the one thing that stands out is-never admitting to be wrong, spinning the truth, and the audacity to think the American people would thank his adminisitration in the end for their deceit? Reminds me of the same arrogance the Clintons are depicting on the democratic side of th aisle! Amazing how Hil-LIAR-ry would just be a different colored pants suit and the deceitful game of politics would remain the same! No More Scandals! No More Bushes! No More Clintons! Play War Games On Your Computer or in your debilitated mind McSame!

    May 28, 2008 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  13. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Sounds like Bartlett doesn't believe McClellan has the right to freedom of speech. Bartlett sounds just as dangerous and lacks credibility like Bush and Cheney. Bartlett needs to look at the number of people that worked under the Bush administration that were either fired or quit before he starts throwing stones.

    May 28, 2008 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  14. Sherry

    I heard it said on another blog. . . pride comes before the fall. . . we have witnessed nothing short of the hubris of Rome before it fell in our very own country. . .

    May 28, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  15. Tyrone Brown, Seattle, WA

    I take solice in the fact that our Democracy guarentees one thing thing – the end of the Bush Presidency and his "sad" Administration. The Obama Administration and the American people will much to clean up, but I have faith that unlike the current adninistration we can and will do the right thing.

    Change is coming!

    Obama '08

    May 28, 2008 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  16. Independent

    Bush and every one he mentions in his book for slander. People writing crap and selling it make millions is becoming epidemic and intolerable.

    May 28, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  17. Marjorie Helms, Amherst, NY

    Total crap? Now, would that be akin to the 'total crap' Americans were told about the military record of King George? Or, would that be the same 'total crap' we were told about how the federal government was going to take care of Katrina victims? No, no, wait.... he must have been refering to the 'total crap' we've been told about how we're winning the war on terrorism! Geez, when one of the 'Bushies' decides to tell the truth, the rest of them turn on him like a pack of lying dogs! This administration has been a disgrace to this country! Please, King George, go home to Texas, and shovel your crap to someone else.....

    May 28, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  18. NO OBAMA5

    TO the obama supporters, I would take 8yrs of gop over anti-American obama and wife!!!!!!!!!

    May 28, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  19. Joe

    What concerns me is the allegations that he didn't air his problems during his tenure. If that is true, and he shut his mouth, and now airs his opinion when it is profitable, shame on him. He should have done his freaking job instead of being a stupid 'yes' man.

    May 28, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  20. Kevin

    Right on the mark Semper.

    If only we could get Colin Powell to come out and speak. We are all well aware of how he jumped on the sword and look where it got him....thanks to all who voted for this trash twice!!!!

    May 28, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  21. tee

    Ditto,-Bush, Cheney, Rove are liars and should be in jail. Remembering when "good people like Colin Powell and the Army Major (sorry can't remember his name) resign mid-stream-that adds credance to McClellan's story.

    May 28, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  22. evie

    On Dan Bartlett's comments. This is typical of the Bush Administration, when criticized deflect by claiming the source is "sad", unstable or any other negative that might fly.
    As a citizens of a once great country we should all be sad.

    May 28, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  23. Richard, FL

    Here is all anyone needs to know about Dan Bartlett's honesty:

    “(Iraq) It's never been a stay-the-course strategy"
    - Dan Bartlett, key Bush adviser, Oct. 22, 2006

    "Total crap" best defines the Bush administration.

    Either Bush is a total incompetent if McClellan is right or Bush is a total incompetent for appointing someone who is "total crap".

    May 28, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  24. RH

    So McClellan was a good little toadie when he was on the payroll. Why exactly does that make him less credible?

    May 28, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  25. Doug

    They think this is bad? Just wait till Dubya leaves office on 1/20/09 and the rest of his former crew publish their memoirs. Whoo-yah!

    May 28, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
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