Karl Rove has been accused by prominent journalists of distorting and rewriting history in his new memoir Courage and Consequence. Now, he’s being rebuked as a fabricator by one of his close former colleagues in the Bush White House.
Former Bush press secretary Scott McClellan on Tuesday sharply rebuked Rove for absolving himself of personal complicity in the Valerie Plame scandal, alleging that the top Bush strategist privately confessed his role in the leak and apologized for it three times.
“I think what you’re seeing is that Karl is continuing to live in his own world here,” McClellan said in an appearance on MSNBC’s Countdown With Keith Olbermann Tuesday.
“He’s the only one that thinks that he was not involved in any effort to expose Valerie Plame’s CIA employment. He continues this cover story that ‘I didn’t know her name’ and for that reason, he couldn’t have leaked her name.”
McClellan, whose own 2008 tell-all memoir What Happened revealed a slew of unflattering secrets about the administration, said he “did receive personal assurances from Karl” that he wasn’t involved before relaying the message to the press — which he was later criticized for.
“The interesting thing is that Karl Rove actually did apologize to me on three occasions back in July of 2005 when it became known that he was involved,” McClellan said. “I’ll leave it to other people to judge what it says about someone who will privately make such an apology but is afraid to make such an apology publicly when the cameras are rolling and the spotlight’s on him.”
Probed Tuesday morning by The Today Show‘s Matt Lauer on whether he believes he owes McClellan an apology, Rove shook his head and said “no” five times.
In his book, Rove vigorously defends his former boss’s campaign to sell the war in Iraq, insisting he never intended to deceive the American public.
McClellan joined his chorus of critics, claiming Rove’s retelling of the situation “creates a false choice based on a false premise.” He said Rove “tries to spin this narrative that since Bush didn’t deliberately or sinisterly lie the nation into war then somehow he was completely honest.”
Bush’s ex-spokesman noted that the administration’s case for invading Iraq was in large part based on the notion that Saddam Hussein was an immediate danger to the United States, that he was pursuing nuclear weapons and was in league with Al-Qaeda — none of which were true.
Accusing Rove of “too much intellectual dishonesty,” he added that “caveats and contradictory intelligence and doubts were ignored or just downplayed, and innuendo and implication were used in excess to try to sell” the war.
The Washington Post‘s Dana Milbank, a White House correspondent during Bush’s first term, mocked Rove’s “historical rewrite” and said his new book “revives claims discredited long ago.”
This video is from MSNBC’s Countdown, broadcast March 9, 2010.