Scott McClellan

former White House press secretary

Scott McClellan (born 14 February 1968) was the White House Press Secretary to President George W. Bush.

Scott McClellan in a briefing


  • If anyone in this administration was involved in it, they would no longer be in this administration.
  • Jeff Gannon: Since there have been so many questions about what the President was doing over 30 years ago, what is it that he did after his honorable discharge from the National Guard? Did he make speeches alongside Jane Fonda, denouncing America's racist war in Vietnam? Did he testify before Congress that American troops committed war crimes in Vietnam? And did he throw somebody else's medals at the White House to protest a war America was still fighting? What was he doing after he was honorably discharged?
    Scott McClellan: We've already commented on some of his views relating back to that period the other day.
  • Q: But if you stand out strongly trying to let the Arab world know that this is wrong and then you have the proverbial spokesperson for the conservative party saying this, doesn't that send a mixed message?
    Scott McClellan: The President's views have been very -- have been made very clear. Go ahead.
  • Jeff Gannon: In your denunciations of the Abu Ghraib photos, you've used words like "sickening," "disgusting" and "reprehensible." Will you have any adjectives left to adequately describe the pictures from Saddam's rape rooms and torture chambers? And will Americans ever see those images?
    Scott McClellan: I'm glad you brought that up, Jeff, because the President talks about that often.
  • Jeff Gannon: Last Friday, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a report that shows that Ambassador Joe Wilson lied when he said his wife didn't put him up for the mission to Niger. The British inquiry into their own prewar intelligence yesterday concluded that the President's 16 words were "well-founded." Doesn't Joe Wilson owe the President and America an apology for his deception and his own intelligence failure?
    Scott McClellan: Well, one, let me point out that I think those reports speak for themselves on that issue. And I think if you have questions about that, you can direct that to Mr. Wilson.
  • Well, I indicated yesterday that I think there were some -- a few staff-level meetings. But, no, I'm making sure that I have a thorough report back to you on that. And I'll get that to you, hopefully very soon.
  • I think I previously indicated that he attended three Hanukkah receptions at the White House. It is actually only two Hanukkah receptions that he attended. [...] I don't get into discussing staff-level meetings.
  • The President is a very straightforward and plainspoken person, and I'm someone who believes in dealing in a very straightforward way with you all, as well, and that's what I've worked to do.
  • Isn't it my right to talk and say what I want to?
  • This relationship is built on trust, and you know very well that I have worked hard to earn the trust of the people in this room, and I think I've earned it -- and I think I've earned it with the American people.
  • That's accurate.
    • White House transcript lists McClellan’s answer as "I don't think that's accurate."
    • Source: Press briefing, October 31, 2005 [1] [2]
  • No, you don't want the American people to hear what the facts are, Helen, and I'm going to tell them the facts.
  • I'm sorry, who?
  • Q: ...would he possibly stand under a sign that says "Mission Accomplished" today as he did three years ago?
    Scott McClellan: Well, Peter, I think that there are some Democrats that refuse to recognize the important milestone achieved by the formation of a national unity government. And there is an effort simply to distract attention away from the real progress that is being made by misrepresenting and distorting the past. And that really does nothing to help advance our goal of achieving victory in Iraq.
    Q: Scott, simple yes or no question, could the President stand under a sign that says --
    Scott McClellan: No, see, this is -- this is a way that --
    Q: It has nothing to do with Democrats.
    Scott McClellan: Sure it does.
    Q: I'm asking you, based on a reporter's curiosity, could he stand under a sign again that says, "Mission Accomplished"?
    Scott McClellan: Now, Peter, Democrats have tried to raise this issue, and, like I said, misrepresenting and distorting the past --
    Q: This is not --
    Scott McClellan: -- which is what they're doing, does nothing to advance the goal of victory in Iraq.
    Q: I mean, it's a historical fact that we're all taking notice of --
    Scott McClellan: Well, I think the focus ought to be on achieving victory in Iraq and the progress that's being made, and that's where it is. And you know exactly the Democrats are trying to distort the past.
    Q: Let me ask it another way: Has the mission been accomplished?
    Scott McClellan: Next question.
    Q: Has the mission been accomplished?
    Scott McClellan: We're on the way to accomplishing the mission and achieving victory.
  • In this case, the 'liberal media' didn't live up to its reputation. If it had, the country would have been better served.
    • Bush press secretary Scott McClellan of the Iraq War, What Happened
  • As I have heard Bush say, only a wartime president is likely to achieve greatness, in part because the epochal upheavals of war provide the opportunity for transformative change of the kind Bush hoped to achieve. In Iraq, Bush saw his opportunity to create a legacy of greatness.
    • Bush press secretary Scott McClellan, on Bush's need to be a wartime president to improve the chance of a "great" legacy, What Happened, pp. 131
  • As a Texas loyalist who followed Bush to Washington with great hope and personal affection and as a proud member of his administration, I was all too ready to give him and his highly experienced foreign policy advisers the benefit of the doubt on Iraq. Unfortunately, subsequent events have showed that our willingness to trust the judgment of Bush and his team was misplaced.
    • Bush press secretary Scott McClellan, What Happened [3]
  • I had allowed myself to be deceived into unknowingly passing along a falsehood. It would ultimately prove fatal to my ability to serve the President effectively. I didn't learn that what I'd said was untrue until the media began to figure it out almost two years later. … Neither, I believe, did President Bush. he too had been deceived, and therefore became unwittingly involved in deceiving me. But the top White House officials who know the truth -- including Rove, Libby, and possibly Vice President Cheney -- allowed me, even encouraged me, to repeat a lie.
    • Bush press secretary Scott McClellan, on the illegal outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame by White House officials, What Happened;
  • I do not believe that the President was in any way directly involved in the leaking of her identity, but that was a very disillusioning moment for me when I found out when it initially hit the press, and I was in North Carolina, if I remember correctly, and a reporter shouted out to the President, "Is it true that you authorized the secret leaking of this classified information?" We walked onto Air Force One, and the Presidents asks, "What was the reporter asking?", and I said, "He asserted that you were the one who authorized Scooty Libby leaking this information," and he said, "Yeah, I did."
    • Bush press secretary Scott McClellan, on illegal leaking of counter-terrorist CIA agent identity; May 29, 2008; Countdown
  • I heard Bush say, "You know, the truth is I honestly don't remember whether I tried it or not. We had some pretty wild parties back in the day, and I just don't remember." I remember thinking to myself, How can that be? How can someone simply not remember whether or not they used an illegal substance like cocaine? It didn't make a lot of sense.
    • Bush press secretary Scott McClellan, on the cocaine rumors that surfaced during the 2000 campaign, What Happened, pp. 48-49
  • ...I could not say honestly today that this administration does not believe in torture, does not engage in torture.
    • Interview with ABC News’ Jake Tapper, July 07, 2008 [4]

Quotes about McClellan

  • I don't want to get too fulsome on you. I don't think you're going to be dining out on the book for the rest of your life, but I think this is a primary document of American history. I'm very impressed with it and I think at some point people will be teaching history classes based on it. … This may be the most revealing look at any sitting President since John Dean was sworn in by the Erwin Committee in 1973.
    • MSNBC host Keith Olbermann to Bush press secretary Scott McClellan on the latter's book What Happened; May 29, 2008; Countdown
  • My impression is... that this is, what I would call from the Watergate days, a modified, limited hangout, and I say that because, not because he was malevolent in his desire to put it out there, but press secretaries know very little in the big picture of what's happening at the White House. They're pretty much told what the policymakers and what the other political people in the White House would want them to know so they don't compromise themselves and they can try to be as honest as possible when they're out there briefing the press. So that's why I think it's pretty limited, but yet fascinating for what it is, and he certainly does nail a few things down. … I think I've read all the memoirs of everybody who's served at the White House at one time or another, going all the way back as early as I could find them, and this is a very unusual one. My situation was of course testimony. I was under oath; there was an intense investigation going on. This is really not in the same context. I can't really think of anything quite similar. I was thinking of press secretaries. The only one who's become anywhere similar was Ford's press secretary, who resigned over the pardon in his disquiet with the pardon, Jerald terHorst, where he said that he was unhappy with what was going on. Ron Nessen, too, was to a degree fairly frank, but he'd left office. When I look back at all press secretaries, this is probably about the only time I can think of a press secretary coming forward while the President was still there, and laying out some of the ugly truth.
    • Former Nixon counsel John Dean on What Happened; May 29, 2008; Countdown; see below for contrary view
  • Here's the thing about Scott McClellan. His performance on the podium suggested he was totally incompetent. He was really badly suited to that job. He hated the public attention and being in front of the cameras. But behind the scenes, well, I've known Scott since 1999, 2000. He actually was inside the circle of trust. That's why his comments are so damning and so critical here, because he did have walk-in access -- something that Tony Snow never did; and Dana Perino would be hard-pressed to have the same kind of relationship.
  • What Happened, I'll say it again, a Rosetta Stone for understanding the last seven years.
    • MSNBC host Keith Olbermann, June 9, 2008; [5]
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