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. Bill

    I agree that the intelligence was wrong. But I don't mean the CIA. I mean the intelligence of the people that made the final decision to go to war.

    There is always a risk that collected intelligence will be incorrect. There were plenty of caveats in the data that was presented to the White House. The decision to go to war was foregone conclusion.

    May 28, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  2. reader

    Amazing what new lows are acceptable for the mighty buck and ego! Too bad – so sad.

    May 28, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  3. Dan - Atlanta

    It all makes sense if you realize that the Bush White House is an alternate universe in which what the president says instantly becomes fact. Reality is against the rules. Honesty and integrity are not required. The public doesn't matter. The big question I have is: Why does the media still give the Bush administration and its spokespeople any credence at all?

    May 28, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  4. Eric

    How can the following intelligence be "WRONG", as Bartlett and Rove claim. The following things are LIES, not mistakes:

    1. We were told that Iraq had mobile biological weapons laboratories, and we were SHOWN DRAWING of these supposed laboratories. Who drew those drawings? They didn't just pop out of nowhere! Somebody MANUFACTURED them by MAKING THEM UP, i.e. LYING.

    2. We were told that Iraq had an fleet of UAVs capable of dropping bombs, when in fact they had a half-dozen balsa-wood radio controlled planes with cheap cameras attached to them.

    3. We were told that Iraq had a 'vast' underground network of buildings where they were conducting weapons research. Remembers those? The ones we were SHOWN DRAWINGS of, and the ones Bush said we needed to develop nuclear bunker busting bombs for? Well, THEY DON'T EXIST!

    4. We were told that Iraq was harboring Osama Bin Laden. That was also a bald faced LIE.

    I've left out several dozen more examples.

    May 28, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  5. beevee

    If what he said in his book are false accusations and lies the people he accused should sue him.

    May 28, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  6. Chut Pata

    Al Gore tried to treat Clinton like a leper saying "I am my own man", and it did not work. McBush is trying to do the same thing by saying he is not McSame, and it won't work either.

    Bushes and Clintons are political lepers and McBush and Billary are the infected ones, keep away from them.

    May 28, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  7. Nate

    Independent thinking has left you all. This is not about political party. This is about truth. Stop talking like bandwagon dems or stuburn republicans. Start thinking about the future. Never mind. Do what you want. I give up. Apothy Party '08

    May 28, 2008 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  8. Mike

    The truth HURTS......ouch!

    May 28, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  9. trellskig

    Get those repugnants out of office NOWWWWW!!!!

    May 28, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  10. DoneWithDems

    "Total Crap".....I'm sure he was being kind.


    May 28, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  11. Butch Dillon

    As long as "total crap" is now on the table, let's get out our shovels and scoop up Bush, Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Powell, Rove and the entire cast responsible for the "total crap" of the last 8 years.

    May 28, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  12. Bill

    Trust??? Wow. Bush, and his flock have destroyed trust. 70+ % of Americans don't trust them. I can't imagine what children watching the nightly news think about the constant lying from Washington. Who in the world can trust the USA? Now we have this Bartlett guy lecturing on trust. These republican clowns should start a circus. Cheney, the Ringmaster, Bush, the lion tamer, Rove, selling popcorn, and Perino, Snow, Fleischer, McClelland, running around with their pooper scoopers. Bush has littered the land with republican Poop.

    May 28, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  13. John in Ohio

    The Bush Administration cherishes freedom of speech. Everyone is free to say good things about the President and the Republicans. Anything else is, of course, dangerous terroristical hatespeak and is not protected by the Constitution.

    May 28, 2008 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  14. Becky

    Its not crap to me I am watching this story.. this guy was on Bush's lap he knows more that I know,, and I will buy the book

    May 28, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  15. Heidi in Alaska

    They just don't like it when their dirty laundry gets bared. Too bad for them. All the people that say they are surprised and dismayed at what Mr. McClellan said in his book still work for the Bush administration. We all know how well they take criticism. We all know how well they take disagreements with their policies. I mean, come crap..definitely their reaction is because what other reaction can the White House staff give when they still work in the White House and are part of the "Spin and Propaganda machine". I always felt for Scott. Poor guy looked really uncomfortable up there telling Bush's half truth's when he knew that is what they were. I don't blame him for quitting over Valarie Plame, I also give him Kudos for actually quitting over it. Get em Scott, they all deserve to be revealed for the liars they are or have become over the last eight years. Congratulations on your book..I know I most likely will read it, and it will probably just confirm a lot of my suspicions. That the Bush administration is just pandering to the "Great Deceiver" until he is out office. I have a feeling there will be A LOT of Tell-All books when that staff leaves the WhiteHouse.

    May 28, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  16. Drew, Central FL

    WH is really deploying it's damage control teams, aren't they?

    Methinks they doth protest too much.

    May 28, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  17. joe

    There is no new revelation in what McClellan said. It's nothing than a sour spoiled reheat food. If anybody was listening to him in all the press briefings he did for Bush and co, one can feel in his voice the frustration. He was like somebody with a 6 cylinder truck engine over his chest. Normally all the Bushes' loyalist s will run after him as they use to do. But please go back and listen to his press conferences, you will feel his frustration by watching him talking.

    May 28, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  18. Margo Murphy

    Let's face it. The Bush administration are made up of liars, cheats and idiots. This is nothing new. I can't wait for the day when Bush and Cheney are gone. This can't happen soon enough. Good Bye Replublicans!!!!!

    May 28, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  19. Ray Brown

    The chickens are coming home to roost, and I'm not speaking of McClellan. Be patient.....there will be others who will enlighten us with how bad policy was formed and carried out with deceit and dishonesty.

    May 28, 2008 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  20. JBY

    Look at Bartlett's comments in this article and listen to Karl Rove's statement Tuesday night.
    Neither of them has said that he's lying or giving misleading information. Both of them have said in essence that if he had misgivings about the way things were being run, he should have stepped aside.

    It's bizarre to me that they are going out of there way no to slander him or insinuate in any way that he's not telling the truth.
    They aren't rubber stamping his McClellan's commentary but they sure aren't refuting it.

    This could end up in some perp walks...

    May 28, 2008 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  21. J

    What a joke. This guy wants attention and a position in the Democratic party. I don't believe a single word from McClellan. It looks entirely fabricated and designed to feed the media frenzy of pro-Democrats.

    May 28, 2008 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  22. Charlie Pratt

    There are two distinct issues here which must be treated separately:

    McClellan The Weasel! – Regardless of the truth or untruth of his statements, his words come much too late and with the heavy stink of capitalism to be taken seriously. I can understand why Bartlett responded like he did. Withholding his [apparent] opinion for all that time and then dumping it out via book contract... a rotten apple for sure. He may get rich off this book, but it will be dirty money.

    McClellan The Truthteller? – If what he says is true, it speaks even more poignantly to the nature of Presidents and their decisions. A President operates solely on the quality of the information he is given. If he receives poisoned information, he can only – at best – distribute poisoned policies.

    Stop demonizing Presidents and start learning the names and positions of those who distribute actionable information.

    It appears most of these commenters despise President Bush and his administration. That's fine, vote your conscience, but don't brew The Weasel and the Truthteller in the same political stew.

    May 28, 2008 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  23. Susie

    What's crap is this entire presidency. Eight years of a joke.

    May 28, 2008 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  24. Independent

    McClellan is taking lessons from Obama. After all, Obama wrote his biography Dreams of my father purely on conjuncture.

    May 28, 2008 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  25. Todd / NYC

    how out of touch is the Bush adminstration?

    advisers of President Bush are "bewildered and puzzled" by the allegations in McClellan's new book.

    really? i doubt it, that's just what they're saying in public. But no one in the public is bewildered or puzzled by these comments. McClellan is just saying stuff that everyone already knows and believes. The Bush adminstration isn't above misleading through propoganda to push through unpopular policies. duh? Bush and his advisors still don't realize that they've presided over one of the worst Presidencies in American history. And the public doesn't believe this fact b/c they are partisan Washington insiders but b/c they've lived through the damaging policies (prescription drug bill, new bankruptcy laws, Patriot Act, etc) and the castrophic blunders (9/11, the Iraq War, the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, etc) of this adminstration.

    It's not easy to admit you are wrong, it's even harder to admit you're a failure. I doubt Bush and his cronies will ever admit either.

    May 28, 2008 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
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