McClellan Hearing Opens in Boisterous Fashion

Posted June 20, 2008 at 9:43am

The House Judiciary Committee hearing featuring former White House press secretary-turned-author Scott McClellan got off to an explosive start Friday morning as the top Republican on the committee aggressively attacked the former Bush aide.

But shortly after the hearing began, Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.) broke the proceedings to allow Members to attend floor votes on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court reauthorization votes.

After ranking member Lamar Smith (R-Texas) made his opening statement — which one of McClellan attorneys stood up and objected — Smith immediately spoke out, arguing that the attorney was speaking out of turn.

In his opening statement, Smith mocked the committee hearing, calling it a political circus and a book club that took political shots at President Bush without providing evidence to back the former spokesman’s claims.

“Welcome to the Judiciary Committee’s first book of the month club meeting. Today it’s Scott McClellan’s ‘What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception,’ Smith mocked. “I propose that next time we consider Ann Coulter’s recent book, ‘How to Talk to a Liberal (If You Must).’”

During the question-and-answer period, Smith focused largely on the mechanics surrounding McClellan’s memoir of his time in the Bush White House instead of revelations surrounding the Valerie Plame case.

Smith first questioned how McClellan chose the title and whether he was aware of the publisher’s criticism of President Bush as a “clearly horrible person.”

McClellan said that he was not aware of the publisher’s views but that the book was by and large a book of his own words.

“This is my book. I wrote this book,” insisted McClellan trying to deflect any attempt that he was coerced to write things against the administration.

On a lighter note, Judiciary Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.) opened the hearing thanking McClellan for appearing before the committee, unlike other administration officials.

“We appreciate that Mr. McClellan has appeared before this committee voluntarily to discuss the revelations in his recent book, in stark contrast to other Bush officials,” said Conyers.

Last summer, the Judiciary Committee voted to hold former and current Bush administration officials in contempt for refusing to testify about White House involvement in the U.S. attorney scandals.