Logan Walters, who as Bush’s longtime personal aide would have been present for a supporter phone call like the one McClellan describes, tells Politico that he never heard such a conversation and that the idea of it is completely implausible.
“I never heard him say, ‘I don’t remember whether or not I’ve used cocaine’ – never heard him say anything like that,” Walters said. “It would be so strikingly out of character and inconsistent with the way he typically responded to issues and questions, it would have stood out in my mind.”
McClellan, the former White House press secretary, makes the sensational allegation in his hostile new memoir, “What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception.”
The book includes the index entry, “Bush, George W., drug use and, 47-9.”
McClellan writes that the issue came up during a “conversation that Bush and I were having on our way to his hotel suite somewhere in the Midwest.” The book doesn’t say when it occurred, but the text suggests it was 1999.
McClellan writes: “As we arrived at the suite, the governor invited me to follow him into the back room. Logan stayed in the living room area, arranging for the governor to take a phone call from a supporter.
“Bush motioned for me to sit and relax in his room while he took the call. … ‘The media won’t let go of these ridiculous cocaine rumors,’ 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, but I just don’t remember.’ … I remember thinking to myself, how can that be?”
McClellan stood by his recollection and pointed out: "Logan was not in the room. He was in the living room area."
At the time, Walters was in Bush’s presence all day, every day.
“I would have reacted the same way Scott claims he reacted in the book, which is I just wouldn’t have believed him,” Walters said. “I don’t believe it’s plausible to say, ‘I don’t remember whether I used cocaine.’ ”
“The president always showed a lot of integrity around me. I was with him in numerous public and private situations, especially during the campaign when he was talking to Karen Hughes or Karl Rove or Dan Bartlett, or other traveling campaign staff.
“I did not ever witness him trying to hide something. I didn’t ever witness him being dishonest about something – saying something publicly that he was inconsistent with privately. That’s not the guy I came to know.”
Walters, 33, is a vice president of a private-equity investment firm in Houston. He was Bush’s personal aide from August 1997 to February 2002, and was an intern in the governor’s office beginning in 1993.
In April 2002, the president and the first lady traveled from Crawford, Tex., to Houston to attend Walters’ wedding to Kate Marinis.