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. Tony Lice Pigg





    May 28, 2008 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  2. mike

    Nader is looking better and better every day!!

    May 28, 2008 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  3. GT

    The White House slander machine will go into warp drive over this. Bush will never face the truth about himself...but fortunately, the story is being told.

    May 28, 2008 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  4. Major Michael in Lorton, Virginia

    Truth in politics is so rare that it is delightful to tell it. Bartlett's comments is like the pot calling the kettle black. Who really betrayed "trust?"

    May 28, 2008 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  5. John McCloy

    “Puzzled”... obviously, that's the word the Republican machine has decided is the message-multiplier to be used. Make a note as to how many use it. Just a matter of minutes before Hannity and Limbaugh do.

    May 28, 2008 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  6. Bartlett is Crap

    If it looks, sounds, reads, and feels like crap – it probably is, but it is not that which is written in McClellan's book that is full of crap, but rather its critic – former White House counselor Dan Bartlett

    May 28, 2008 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  7. Margaret Smith

    Perhaps this is the beginning of the "cleansing" in Washington! Let the next President be aware that his/her actions will ALWAYS be available for the next book.

    I commend McLellan for coming forward and feel that those involved will eventually get their just rewards. What goes around comes around!

    May 28, 2008 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  8. Trey L.

    Folks sometimes the truth hurts!
    We all know that this President is a joke and his lies have come back to hurt the entire country.

    May 28, 2008 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  9. Busted

    The most hillarious thing about this article is that Bartlett and Bush's other advisor's failed to mention that they are now the one's that get paid to lie to the world for the administration. Don't worry Bartlett, we will connect the dots and await your tell all book next spring.


    PS: Keith Olbermann rules!!!

    May 28, 2008 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  10. Debby

    I agree with Bartlett its like this guy is a Jekyll and Hyde. Some of the stuff in that book is off the wall.

    May 28, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  11. beverly

    just about every one that worked for bush administration is fully of crap, that why so many have left they saw the hand writing on the wall. many of them did not leave soon enough, they know who they are, ( IF YOU BELEIVE WHAT GOES AROUND COME AROUND-DUCK) THERE IS A HIGHER COURT YOU WILL ANSWER TO SOONER OR LATER

    May 28, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  12. Johnboy

    If Obama by some miracle gets elected you Dems will suffer after voting in a complete and pathetic loser. Sweet talking chump has no answers just false promises he could never keep. The only reason he's around is the media which has made him popular since no one else can make a good judgement based on his qualifications and past...which he has major flaws and they will come to light so get ready for a beat down.

    May 28, 2008 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  13. Tom, St. Paul

    Bartlett is the White House counsel. He's a lawyer, an advcocate. His job is to represent the President. So when he says McCelland's book is total crap, we are supposed to believe him? Innocant til proven guilty, right Bartlett? This is not a court of law. The court of public opinion has a different standard than a court of law.

    His comments are very telling: "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 a trust. "Part of the role of being a trust adviser is to honor that trust,...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 is more concerned that the cat is out of the bag than disproving McClellan's allegations. But we are supposed to believe him rather than McClellan??

    May 28, 2008 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  14. Tim in SF

    We all know that a Press Secretary's responsibility is to spin whatever news story is current. In this case, to get before the cameras and lie about what you can't ignore or deny. FACT! This happens in every Administration since the beginning of time, Democrat OR Republican, not just the current one.

    To betray that trust by now airing your dirty laundry that like most here say we already knew, is disgraceful. When you accepted that job, it is part of your responsibility to tow the line. You DO NOT then betray your previous employer by going out and writing a book.

    That is one of the problems with the US now days. It's all about the individual and what "I" want. We aren't stupid! We already knew you were lying Mr. Bartlett but doing so because it was your job. I don't like the current Administration any more than the next person but what you have done is flat-out WRONG! The only revelation that has come from this is that you are a weasel Mr. Bartlett.

    You have only exposed your total lack of integrity to do a dirty job that you willingly accepted. Period! I understand most will disagree about this because most people lack basic character.GO AHEAD AND FLAME ME!

    May 28, 2008 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  15. Kevin

    Thanks, Scott! It always looked to me that you could barely hold back the puke every time you had to make some lame excuse for Bush! I hope you sell a copy to every voter in America!

    May 28, 2008 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  16. Steve Bonser

    Sure, Dan. What else could we expect from these Bush toadies except to continue to deny, deny, deny? Now that we've heard from Rove and Bartlett, it should be a matter of minutes before Tony Snow, Scooter Libby, Alberto Gonzales, Karen Hughes, Don Rumsfeld, John Ashcroft, Paul Wolfowitz, Christopher DeMuth and the rest of the discredited losers start mouthing off. Pop quiz: which one will be the first to go to jail?

    May 28, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  17. GEORGE


    May 28, 2008 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  18. mel

    I think he telling the truth and this administration not yet been
    held accountable for a lot of wrong doing,especially the war in
    Iraq and other than that Cheney have help Mr. Bush cover-up.
    This why we need change ours government because it the same

    May 28, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  19. Vernon

    McClellan has all the credibility here.....he's the former White House chief of staff.......Who else would know better about the lies and deceit from the adminstration than him?

    May 28, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  20. AJ

    Obviously Dan does'nt understand the meaning of propoganda (or he understands it
    when the other side is involved). He was as usual putting the blame for losing
    more than 4000 precious lives (not counting thousands of innocent Iraqis),
    wasting billions of dollars, our lousy relations with the rest of the world on
    the bad intelligence that was given to the most incompetent President we have
    ever had and his cronies. He has a very short memory – he doesn't remember the
    beating of the drums against Saddam for everything he (Saddam)should have been
    doing and not doing. He doesn't remember the repeated onslaught of war of words
    against Saddam's using chemical weapons against the Iranians and the Kurds
    (which by the way was a dastardly thing to do but should have been taken care of
    by UN and rest of the world and not our macho president and VP). He doesn't
    remember the days of on end saying UN and IAEA is not doing its job. He gives
    this BS about being misled by the bad intelligence given by CIA (who by the way
    were probably forced to say what Bush and Cheney wanted to hear). The policies
    of Bush and if McCain gets elected his, would be nothing but disaster for this
    country. Talking points is not good enough for the republicans to be elected
    this time. I am proud of Scott for bringing out all the dirty laundry.

    May 28, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  21. Democrat in 08!

    Total Crap pretty much sums up the Bush adminstration!

    May 28, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  22. jason

    yes, don't violate the trust by being honest. we all trust each other to never tell the people what we're doing.

    May 28, 2008 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  23. JJ in Chula Vista, CA

    Mike, I like your spin... Blame the Democrats for rising gas prices, essentially blaming the Democrats for the mistakes of the Republicans and George Bush. Nice try! What else do you have to sell?

    May 28, 2008 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  24. Concerned Citizen and Patriot

    The allegations in Mr. McClelland's book are merely the tip of the iceberg. Time will reveal what the majority of Americans already sense. The Bush-Cheney administration is the most corrupt and inept in history. Impeachment is long over due and Rove deserves to be in jail.

    May 28, 2008 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  25. Dave

    People will say anything for $.

    May 28, 2008 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
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