POLITICS
06/06/2008 05:12 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Scott McClellan: White House Wanted Me To Stay Silent (VIDEO)

Former White House press secretary Scott McClellan spoke out for the first time since excerpts of his new memoir set Washington abuzz, saying on NBC's Today show that he was answering a "higher loyalty" than his affection for President Bush: "loyalty to the truth."

Video of the segment is below, and here are some highlights via Politico:

"The White House would prefer that I not talk openly about my experiences," he said in a lengthy, at time combative interview with anchor Meredith Viera. "These words didn't come to me easy. ... I'm disappointed that things didn't turn out the way we all hoped they would."

He added: "I have a higher loyalty ... than my loyalty to my past work. I have a loyalty to the truth."

Asked if he'll ever talk to the president again, McClellan said: "I don't know. I certainly don't expect it any time soon. I know this is a tough book for some people to accept."

McClellan's book, "What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception," has provoked a furious counterattack from his former colleagues, who call it "sad," "puzzling" and "pathetic."

McClellan accused Vice President Cheney of failing his boss. "In a number of ways, he has not served the president well," McClellan said. "Part of it is the secrecy and compartmentalization ... in the White House."

And McClellan said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, when she was White House national security adviser, gave in too often to Cheney and former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

"I felt that too often she was too accommodating ... of the other strong personalities on the foreign policy team ... and too deferential to those individuals," he said.

Former presidential counselor Dan Bartlett, following McClellan on "Today," said McClellan had used "very inflammatory words" like "propaganda," with "not a lot of evidence."

"He never communicated to us that he had these personal misgivings," Bartlett said. "There's not a lot of specific evidence about the most explosive charges."