tv Q A CSPAN October 6, 2013 8:00pm-9:01pm EDT
chief of staff josh bolten is our guest on "q&a." @9:00 p.m., david cameron. ,emarks by christine lagarde the managing director of the imf. >> this week on "q&a" part one of a two-part discussion with josh bolten. he discusses his duties during the george w. bush administration. >> josh bolten, in the epilogue to george w. bush's book, he says -- he greeted me. you were in his office on the last day. he says, he greeted me with the
same words he would use every day as my chief of staff, mr. president, thank you for the privilege of serving. did you say that/ >> i did. sometimes it was a variation of it. visited of staff, i with the president first thing every morning. he typically got to his desk about 6:45. i would give him about five minutes to get settled. persondition was, first that the president sees is the chief of staff. i would walk in at about 6:50 in the morning and i always said something to the effect of, thank you for the privilege of serving. it wasn't intended to flatter him or to thank him. it was intended to remind me and help me remind everybody else what a privilege it was to be inside the white house. so i just made it a habit.
i am glad i did. it was a privilege everyday. >> what did he say back? >> nothing. he would just move on. president who i think really understood the presidency, understood both the responsibility and the privilege of being in the oval office. so he didn't need the reminding. he probably didn't even need the reminding that i was appreciative and sensitive to it. but i wanted myself and everybody to be aware of both the burdens and the joys we had of being there. especially, because i was president bush's last chief of staff, i served roughly the last three years, i wanted everybody
around me and myself to be keenly aware that we had limited time. we weren't owners. we were tenants. we had to treat everyday day as an opportunity as well as a privilege. >> i have always said that there are about 4000 people in this town that were president of their class, president of their student body, and they are all competing. you were president of your class at princeton? >> junior year. >> you were president of your student counsel in high school. >> yes, i think so. [laughter] you would think you might remember that. i was what they called the senior prefect. >> when did you think that you were going to be involved in leadership and why?
i grew up here in d.c. and i probably didn't sense it at the time but it is a company town. business,to the local which was all around me as i was growing up so it seemed perfectly natural. i was always interested in good leadership. i don't think i ever thought of myself as a particularly brilliant leader but i was always interested in how that is done. i think i spent a lot of my career helping other people to be good leaders. i hope i ultimately was one myself. >> when you think back about the last three years, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? >> about the bush administration? >> when you were chief of staff.
what flashes in front of you? >> a lot of things. both a trauma and a recency affect to the financial crisis. that was the last thing that happened on the way out the door for the bush administration. you have to appreciate that we had gone through 7.5 very difficult tumultuous years. hugely consequential. dramatic changes in the world and in the united states. recession, a crisis of confidence in american attacks, the war in afghanistan, the war in iraq, hurricane katrina. as we approached the last year of the bush administration, as we got to 7.5 years and, most of
us thought, let's try to wrap this up in a responsible and effective way. for whoever ran the presidency, leave the print -- the country and the white house in as good as shape as possible for that next person. and we were hit with the financial crisis which really exploded in september of 2008. it had been festering for a few months but i don't think anybody happened int september and october of 2008. when i think of the three years that i served as chief of staff, that explosion of economic crisis, of financial crisis right at the end is what comes to my mind. >> was there a time that that period that you were afraid --
that is a strange word -- over utah, this could really be bad? >> i have been asked periodically, when were you most afraid during your government service? my service in government spanned the entire tea of bush 43's administration from january 2001 to january 2009. including 9/11. when asked what was the scariest moments, people are always expecting me to say 9/11 and in reality, it wasn't. one inere more than september and october of 2008 when a genuinely appeared and
probably was true that the global financial system was on the verge of a collapse comparable to or worse than what was experienced during the great depression. >> what is the first thing you did? when did you know it? >> it was probably the immediate aftermath of the collapse of lehman brothers. cascade ofn ongoing traumatic events that led up to that. in mid-september, over a weekend, lehman brothers despite our efforts -- i say our, i mean the efforts of the treasury and of the fed to put together some
kind of rescue for one of america's big and venerated investment banking houses. that failed over a weekend. as the week opened, lehman brothers declared bankruptcy and folded abruptly. i think that was the first thatt that i at least felt the wheels on the bus might be coming off. >> do your a member what the president said to you at any time and how you got involved in dealing with the crisis? >> i don't remember what the president said immediately at that moment. there were several moments during the crisis when the president would take in all of andadvice he was getting chew on it, reflect on it.
in those circumstances, he really made a decision immediately on the spot. he would think about it -- if there was time -- and let his advisers know what he had decided maybe the next morning. after he had a chance to chew over the advice he had gotten. there were several circumstances -- occasions during the financial crisis when the president, as scary as the role ofn was, took the the leader and said, we will get through this. he was very sensitive to anybody or gettingpanicking completely desperate. he would always -- he would make some tough decisions and say, we
will get through this. the one i remember most vividly was after the collapse of lehman brothers. we started to see a cascading effect of markets seizing up. banks would not lend to each other. there was no liquidity. hank paulson, the treasury to ask for ame in meeting with the president and his senior advisers. him thelson had with chairman of the fed, ben bernanke and the president of the new york fed, tim geithner. we also had the chairman of the securities exchange commission present and a couple of other officials. it was at that meeting that hank
paulson asked the president for authority to go to congress to request what turned out to be outt $1 trillion in bail money for the banks. to use it for other assets but it was used to inject equity into a lot of trouble institutions. for a goodking thing solid republican president to be confronting is the treasury secretary coming in, saying, we need $700 billion or $800 billion immediately from congress in order to use that money to rescue banks that are failing.
this was one occasion where the president made a decision on the spot. , what happensnke if we don't do this? bernanke being a scholar of the great depression and a very wise clearly very was frightened about the state of the financial system and he said, mr. president, we could be looking at circumstances similar to or worse than the great depression. said, thatnt then makes it easy. let's go. , as peoplemeeting were milling around and talking, president bush went around to all of the principals involved and had a private word each one of them.
he comforted everybody because it was a shocking decision to have to make, comforted everybody and said, don't worry, we are doing the right thing. we will get through this. >> d remember ever watching someone come to the oval office face,e, somewhat in his talk back to him, tell him what they really thought? people say all the time that nobody will speak up to the president. >> president bush encouraged people to speak up to him. -- nobody likes to be treated disrespectfully but he encouraged people to speak candidly with him and tended to reward it by paying attention.
but there is something about the oval office of which president bush was keenly aware, which is people plan to come in and give the president a piece of their mind. say, mr.there and president, you look great today. everyone hates to give him bad news. that is part of the role of the chief of staff. when everybody is gone, the chief of staff is the one who should say, they weren't telling you something. the news is worse than they were saying. is moreinet member disappointed and angry than you think and feels strongly that his colleagues are taking us in the wrong direction. but he didn't want to say so in the oval office. so, a good president has to be
able to break through that. you won't get many people coming in and getting in the face of the president even, sometimes, when they should. >> who was in your experience around him -- you were, your job was what? >> deputy chief of staff for policy, two years. >> next you did what? >> budget director, three years. and then, chief of staff, three years. >> in all that time, who spoke i know you never wrote the book, you don't like to talk about this, but who spoke up the most in any meeting? >> interesting question. was somebody who often had views contrary to what the president -- the flow of opinion might be.
with a brilliant man eclectic knowledge, so he had confidence both from his own abilities and knowledge and from his long-standing close relationship with the president, to speak up in ways that others might not. -- he was the first person i think of who would sometimes tell the emperor that his clothing was frayed at a minimum. >> you got your law degree where? >> stanford. >> you work for goldman sachs for how long? >> five years. >> where? >> london. >> doing what? i was part of the law department there. withle was principally
public policy and government policy. i had the opportunity to give both advice on what was happening in public policy that was relevant to the banking business and to work on issues of public policy that affected the banking business that goldman sachs was doing in europe. >> a lot of americans are suspicious of the connection between a josh fulton who worked at goldman sachs, the relationship to new york and the bankers, and george bush says in his book that you were responsible for bringing him paulson. >> i am responsible for bringing in hank paulson. the conspiracy theory doesn't hold up because i didn't really know hank paulson when i worked at goldman. a good job, ahad
lot of interesting responsibilities but i was not a big cheese at goldman sachs during the five years i worked there in the late 90's. aftermath as my government career took me to higher and higher positions, i found that that also tended to elevate what had done before. being moderately senior at goldman sachs to being -- running europe for goldman sachs, which i didn't. i did know hank paulson. i met him when i was at golden sachs. what i did know when i became chief of staff was that we had -- oveready five years five years in the bush administration without a significant financial crisis.
i knew from my experience at goldman and elsewhere that it is very rare that any administration can go eight years without some kind of internationally significant financial crisis. when i came in as chief of staff , i told the president that as our incumbent treasury secretary was also beginning to come to the end of his -- >> john snow? >> he had already served for over three years and was beginning to come to the end of his time. i told the president that i thought it was very important in the final three years of his presidency that we bring in a treasury secretary who have real market credibility. as preferablyravit at the head of one of the large wall street institutions. in the wake of the enron crisis,
there was a great deal of reticence and government about bringing in wall street people to serve in government. their reputations had fallen so low. i thought, we find somebody of integrity in whom people on both sides of the aisle can have confidence. wood, maybe will be lucky to get through the next three years without a financial crisis but we will be the first one to have. he was a tough sell. i went straight in the front said, we are starting to look at who can replace john snow as treasury secretary. the president would like to consider you. who gets approached for that kind of thing is going to be flattered but his reaction
was, not really. he was sitting on top of the world. he was the leader of what at the time was possibly one of the most successful financial enterprises in the history of mankind. he is not a mercenary guy at all. but he is success-driven. he was a successful leader of the most successful financial institution may be the history of the world. >> he was worth 700 million dollars at least? >> probably. if you know hank, you know that is not what animates him. he is very aggressive, success- driven person. personally isim not significant. that is the way you measure success in banking.
and, he looked at the bush administration in 2006, not hugely popular, probably not a great deal of agenda to pursue. so i tried to will him -- woo him partly with the assertion i just made which was, we are not likely to be lucky enough to go another three years without a financial crisis. number two, there are interesting things to be done. we are aggressively pursuing social security reform. we want to aggressively pursue -eform of our government sponsored enterprises, fannie mae and freddie mac. laterns out, we were too to try to get control of that situation. whatwere at the core of triggered the financial crisis. >> did you know that was coming?
>> no. toon't want to give myself much credit, i had no idea what was coming. if you force me to say what kind of financial crisis do you think is coming, i would have said probably a foreign currency crisis. that is what typically happens in the past. >> when did george bush the president stop appointing people, nominating them for the board of fannie and freddie? >> i don't remember what year it was but i thought it was an important statement of principle. we believe that those organizations were getting too large and that the government involvement with them was creating an untenable situation in which the markets would continue to pour money into fannie and freddie without the market disciplines because everybody figured that there wouldn't be -- and government
had already claimed there is no backstop. we tried to withdraw that from the government. this is the case that i was making to hank paulson. doesn'seem very big to me. what he was interested in was china. i said, there is a lot to be done there to deepen the economic relationship and try to make sure that china proceeds along a responsible path with its explosive economic development. but he said no. i went back to him and persuaded him to come visit with the president. he said, ok. he had kind of warmed back up to the idea. this was over a period of two or three months. he had warmed up to the idea so
i arranged an appointment for him to visit with the president because i thought that if he got to know the president better, he would feel like this is a team he wants to be on. he called me up the day before saying, he thought about it and talked to some people on his own team who understood washington, who told him you don't go visit the president unless you're going to say yes. he said he didn't expect to say yes so the couldn't in good conscience take the visit. so he fell off the radar screen for a couple more weeks. we had him do a lunch at the fore house, a state bunch president of china. that got his juices flowing again. after that lunch, i asked to visit with him again and he finally said yes subject to some
conditions. they really hit it off but it took a long time to sell him and in his very interesting book, he discloses that when his mother found out that he was going to work for george w. bush, she burst into tears. >> heeded or she did? >> she did. >> she wasn't a republican? was he a republican? >> yes. but at the time, that was a and maybee breed even especially in wall street. his wife was not a republican. she was a friend of hillary clinton's from college. so he was swimming against a pretty strong cultural and familial tie to come into the bush administration. >> leading back to freddie and fannie. five board seats that every president had. there wasn't a lot of publicity.
i found it in the new york times that george bush stopped appointing people. -- if your predecessors think rahm emanuel went on the board -- but outsiders don't ever see this. there are so many insiders who have made a tremendous amount of money off of that. it is still there. they are not public corporations like they used to be but you saw all this up close. how did it ever get away from us as people that these institutions were created and people in politics made that kind of money? >> really good question. it happened over a period of decades. fannie and freddie were very successful at their mission of creating a stable and inclusive mortgage market so that more and
more americans could own their own homes. presidents of all stripes including george w. bush signed to promoting the american dream. everybody gets to own their own home. during the bush administration, we saw homeownership rates rise to their highest level in history. the president was especially proud that those homeownership rates were high among minorities. there was a general political ofh and the intertwining basically public risk and private gain -- it just developed over time. it is something that in the bush administration we recognize was .roblematic and try to unwind
there were powerful voices within the white house including our economic advisers, larry lindsey was one and and lazear -- they beat the drum and said, this is dangerous. the size of the balance sheet of these operations is really getting out of control. yet, the system kept rolling on. house prices kept going up. fannie mae stock keeps going up. intertwining of public- sector appointees to the private board for private gain was producing good news for everybody as well as good pay for everybody. it was kind of a situation where
nobody had a strong interest in blowing the whistle. we tried to blow the whistle. we had proposals. but not just fannie mae and freddie mac but the whole concept of government support of the mortgage finance system was so popular on capitol hill that even today it is hard to break. >> a couple of things that i have never heard anybody answer, larry lindsey who was in the white house predicted that the iraq war was going to cost a couple hundred million -- billion dollars. others were saying 60 billion. all of a sudden, larry lindsey was gone. was he fired? larry -- first of all, the assertion that larry was fired because of his prediction about
how much the war would cost is just flat wrong. i have seen that in print all over the place. just flat wrong. it wasn't even -- he didn't say, that is what is going to cost. what he said was, if history is a guide, this is what a war of this nature has tended to cost. he was giving basically an academic history cancer. answer.ric it turned out to be controversial but that wasn't it. larry had the misfortune of trying to be the coordinator of economic team in the first couple years of the bush administration that resisted coordination. end of his first two years in office, president bush decided, new team. >> as long as we are on iraq, the general also said we are
going to need more troops over there and all of a sudden, he was gone. was he fired? >> i wasn't privy to all of the details of that but my recollection was he was on the way out anyway. he certainly didn't endear himself to the civilian leadership in the pentagon by speaking out with a view that is perfectly legitimate to give internally, but probably shouldn't be given externally. >> you saw this up close. how many people get away with it? the lesson you might have learned watching it up close if you were advising others when you get into be the chief of staff? >> you have to watch out for it because it happens. environment that
promotes dissent, which in my experience george w. bush always did. internal dissent. you don't need a lot of people squawking outside because that not only doesn't help the process of decision-making, it optionally -- actually undermines it. people won't feel comfortable giving their candid advice in a private session with the president if they feel like some of the else in that room is going to be talking outside about what is said. so you do need people who are going to say, no, i disagree. this is how it ought to be done. is lesson i have taken away really advice for people who have had the kinds of jobs i had. deputy chief of staff and the chief of staff. in both roles, i viewed it as often my most important responsibility to generate
disagreement in front of the president. a lot of time is spent in those roles of trying to generate agreement among the cabinet and senior advisers on issues that aren't presidential. you don't want to take up the president's time with second- tier issues. as deputy chief of staff for policy, i spent a fair amount of time saying, can't we work this out question mark -- work this out? if it is truly a presidential issue, i found that i was serving the president best when i was doing the opposite which is, i would come to the meeting and intentionally needled the participants, many of whom got mad at me. i would needled them into disagreeing more sharply with each other than they were accustomed to doing in front of the president.
that is because i trusted the president. amongys thought he had the best skills, the best judgment in being able to sort out an argument and make a decision based on conflicting advice. if you trust the president, then needle everybody to disagree with each other and let the president assad. the instinct of a lot of cabinet officers when they come to the oval office is, we failed the president because we are dumping this horrible problem into his lap without some resolution. the cabinet needs to appreciate and what i told every cabinet officer when they came in and when i had a chance is, that is why he is here. that is the part of the job he likes. that is why we have presidents, to make some of those tough choices. so make it as hard as you want for him. that is when he is really being
presidential and you are being a good cabinet officer. >> i want to run a piece of recorded video from several years ago. wrote speeches for george clinton. he said this about what it was like being in the white house and watching the process. >> you realize how there really isn't anybody in charge. beings thatst human i believed, that somewhere up there, there was somebody in charge. things were being taken care of. i don't think this is just carter, i think this is true of every white house. you and that it is just people up there. they are not that different from the people you know. they are not gods. they don't know everything. they get tired and they get irritable. they want to just put it out of their minds sometimes when it
gets too stressful. you learn that while you're in the white house. when you leave, you forget it again. i am back to thinking -- even the bush white house, there is some of the up there taking care of things. the biggest glimpse you get working in the white house is that there is nobody home. it is just human beings up there. there is somebody home. it is the president and his senior advisers. i never had the feeling that, holy crap, we have got these big issues holding on and we are not paying attention to them. i never had that feeling. it isi do agree is that
fallible human beings. i remember in school, when you study history, you learn -- at least i developed a sense that there was a dialectic in history, a sort of determinism that was born of economics and ofographics and big flows humanly uncontrollable factors that would determine outcomes in history. -- the mostthink striking thing about having served in senior levels at the white house was how important individuals are. fallible, brilliant, whatever.
time and again, i saw ofividuals through the force their arguments, through the force of their intellect, through the force of their passion, through the force of their faith, time and again i saw individuals slightly bend the course of history, sometimes radically bend the course of history in ways that would not have occurred but for the presence of that individual. on that, i agree. it is much more human and much more individual than most people sense. >> can you remember an individual who had an impact on the course of history when you were in the white house? >> i think in any number of people -- condoleezza rice did, , her successord
of the national security advisor. >> can you remember an incident where that one person in the room changes the discussion? >> a guy i like to think of is tony fauci who was the head of the infectious disease institute at nih. was shocked and frustrated at the prospect of aids wiping out whole generation in africa on a whole continent. inability of the rest of the world to respond to that -- we asked tony to come up with a ,lan as if money were no object
is there something that can be done about this? backected tony to come with -- because he had been an aids researcher for many years and was -- he was directing people who were working hard to find a vaccine for aids. i expected tony to come back and say, yeah, put a few billion more into the vaccine research and eventually we will be this thing. he didn't. he came back and said, maybe a little bit more for vaccine research but i can't tell you that will advance by a single day, the date on which we can end this disease forever. we can now treat it. in the process of treatment, we will be on the road to prevention. right now, the aids pandemic is sweeping africa in part because
nobody can get treated. so why would you even get tested if the only result of the test is a death sentence. tony came back and with the help of some key people in the white house, constructed what became the president's emergency plan for aids relief. fauci and kerry edson and mike peterson, that plan would never have been. are literallye millions of people alive in africa today because of the plan that they produced and the president approved. >> president bush 43 tells the story about you introducing him to bono. where did you meet bono? ,e also tells the story about
as you were bringing him into the oval office, you said, do you know who bono is? and he said, yet he was married to cher. >> true story. bono is -- in my eight years in the white house, i don't think i saw a single lobbyist better than bono. i should disclose on whose board i now serve. i joined it after leaving government because i thought best advocates that i saw during my entire time
in the white house on a cause in which i also believe. so bono and his team were pressuring the white house persistently on debt relief for africa and then on release of the aids crisis. when i was know him deputy chief of staff for policy as he came into lobby. i werendoleezza rice and very impressed with him. he was always prepared, always passionate, typically knew more about the details of the issues on which he was lobbying than some of the government officials in the room whom he was pressing. he brought a movement behind him. he brought a history of being celebrity,se of his being able to print -- bring people from both sides of the
aisle together. he was a significant moving force and a lot of the innovations that occurred during the bush administration on development assistance and the alleviation of extreme poverty. condi and i -- he wanted to visit with the president, we wanted his help to support an initiative that the president was coming out with. and i started to work on the president to visit with bono and the president was resistant. that wasn't his style. he didn't really like hollywood and rock stars coming in to the white house because he always suspected -- i think with some justification in many cases -- that the celebrities were using the cost to enhance their celebrity rather than using their celebrity to enhance the cause.
condi and i always thought that bono was the latter so we persuaded the president to meet with them. i met with the president before and said,g with bono here is what he wants. here is what we want. a good outcome would be x. as i was leaving i said, you know who bono is? he said yeah, rockstar, my kids love his music. i said, good. as i was putting my hand on the ber, he said, and used to married to cher. i turned around and looked at him, and in his book he says he was joking. as i looked at his face, i couldn't tell. and he looks like
bono, one of the few people who walked into the oval office without a necktie. he is wearing a black suit, black shirt, figuring, sunglasses that are his trademark. bush gives me a look like, this better be good. bono was very smart. -- i thinkwith him it was an irish bible. people often give the president a gift when they visit. note usually a very little and significance. it triggered a conversation between the two of them in their initial meeting about faith. the importance of faith and good works. i think that helped establish the bond between two man of
faith. , a bond. bush and bono that persists to this day. >> when you're the chief of staff, how closely are you tied on a day-to-day our tower basis to the president -- hour to hour basis to the president? >> in the way that we run the white house, especially within the template that was set up by my fabulous predecessor who was one of the great human beings ever to have served in government, and he made himself extremely close to the president. andy has a great memory. so he was an invaluable resource not just for the president but for the entire rest of the government. he tried to make sure that he saw and heard everything
significant that the president saw and heard. and everything significant that the president said and did. so that he could interpret for the rest of the government what the president's intentions were. living mostasically of the president's and schedule. i didn't spend quite as much time with the president has and he did. but that meant for me, spending probably 2/3 of the regular working day or at least 1/2 of the regular working day living the president's schedule with him. his security briefings in the morning, a visit with a cabinet officer, maybe visit with some members on the hill, going to a speech somewhere. for the chief of staff, what that means is that you don't get a lot of desk time until the president goes up for dinner. so it is a long hours job. maybe att started
6:15. maybe 5:30.started maybe there is an explanation there. ready to talk to the president at 6:45 when he gets to the oval office, chief of staff needs to be there i found at least a half-hour. andy would be there at least an hour, maybe more before the president got there. my desk time to do e-mails, reading, i would find i was typically at the white house until 10:00 or 11:00 at night. >> were you ready for it to end? >> yes. not from fatigue or discouragement, but i had the blessing of knowing that if
everything went great and i was one of the most fortunate people in the world to serve out the entire administration with president bush, i knew the exact date and hour when my service would end. there is a certain amount of preparation in that. i tried to make sure that i felt every day -- as i said before, i try to instill in the rest of the staff -- we are here for a limited time. make the best use you can of every possible day. when it is done, just right to be, to put yourself in a position to have said, i did my best. i tried. i tried to make the best use of every hour i had in this privileged place. shortly after i became chief of aaff, we were approaching
thousand days left in the administration. i gave everybody on the senior team of the white house a little countdown clock. and wased at 1000 days just counting down the minutes. it turned out to be kind of a because ir move -- pr didn't advertise it but, the word got out. there were blogs and things all over the place announcing that they had a similar clock and they were just thrilled about it. i had passed it out to the other members of the staff just to give people a reminder. after five years, this is not a permanent state of things. we are here for a short time. it was amazing. you would see that clock and sort of notice it and it would say, 900 days and all of a sudden, it would say 850. gotways had the feeling, we
a lot to do. >> almost everybody remembers where they were at 9/11. where were you? >> i was deputy chief of staff acting chiefi was of staff at the white house because andy had traveled with the president to florida early that morning. , a lotn the white house of our senior people were gone traveling with the president who was promoting an education initiative that we had thought would be the central piece of the early part of his presidency. a major push for federal education reform. meetinge senior staff on the morning of september 11
and it was a pretty relaxed and peaceful moment in the presidency that had been fairly turbulent because of the controversy over the election and have had a lot of activity in the early months of the presidency because of the recession that was coming in and disputes over political taxes and so on. i remember the morning of relaxedr 11 as a fairly day because people were getting back from holiday, the congress was just beginning to get back in session, things at the time seemed pretty good with the world. >> so, what happened at that moment when you found out? how did you find out? i saw on television in my
office after the senior staff meeting just out of the corner of my eye, i saw the picture of what at the time was thought to have been a small plane hitting the trade towers and i thought, that is very sad. what a freak accident. but then the tv pictures made me wonder. i walked down to the situation room which is in the ground floor of the white house under the main floor of the west wing. in the situation room, there are -- it is supposed to be the information nerve center of the white house where they are monitoring all the tv stations, all the intelligence sources. it is where the defense department and cia and everybody funnels in information to the president and the white house. i just wondered down there to
see what they were picking up. while i was there, in the planeion room, the second hit the second tower. it was at that moment that i realized, this is not an accident. there is a large conference room in the situation room where condoleezza rice would hold her big staff meeting of all her senior directors, about 20 people in the room. i walked into that room and condi was leading the meeting. she said, here is josh bolten, started to introduce me to her senior directors. i gave her the timeout signal and asked her to step out for a minute. hitid, the second plane has .
this is not an accident. it is an attack. we went upstairs to the vice president's office which is right next to the chief of staff's office. and then weth him reconvened in the vice president's office and while we a large secret service agent whose face i can still remember -- he had kind of a shaved head -- big guy, he came in the said -- and said, we have to leave now. the vice president was kind of reluctant. he was still having a conversation and he is not interested in fleeing his office. the secret service agent came around find him and got him in a bear hug and pick him up off the ground and started running with him, with the vice president's
legs sort of helping out along the way. they disappeared off on the way to what has now been publicly disclosed as the bunker that is underneath the ground of the west wing. >> what happened to you? as deputy chief of staff, you don't have secret service detail. nobody was watching out for me. , before i was in the vice president's office, i had been in my office. in the dippy the chief of staff's office. -- i walked in and the phone was ringing. on the inside line. a number that i don't think i had given out to anybody. i probably wasn't even aware i had an inside line. i picked it up and it was one of my predecessors from the clinton administration. very nice guy who i didn't know
well but it was very kind. he was named steve. steve said, are you watching tv? >i said, yes. e said do you know about the bunker and fortunately i did. >> they had run an exercise of what happens in a crisis and we'd all found out who was supposed to go to the bunker and we had visited it and things like that. but it was petty casual training on all of this. but i did know the bunker and knew where to go. steve subsequently told me in the clinton administrationed the been in some cases months and years before people were briefed on the existence of it