Bush May Force Vote On Bolton

U.S. Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, John Bolton, video still 2003/7/28.
President Bush and GOP leaders may force a showdown vote on the confirmation of John Bolton before the full Senate if a Senate panel fails to endorse him as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, the Washington Post reports.

Bolton, a veteran State Department official, has been dogged by allegations that he behaved abusively toward subordinates and that he tried to pressure career intelligence analysts into twisting facts for political reasons.

The Post, citing unidentified White House and Senate aides, said the president plans to press for Bolton's confirmation on three fronts:

  • Shift the debate from Bolton's temperament to the need to reform the U.N.
  • Furnish senators with a detailed rebuttal to each of the allegations against Bolton.
  • Conduct a nose count that establishes the nomination has enough votes to win approval before the full Senate.

    If this scenario plays out, the Democrats would need to pick up a few votes from GOP senators or mount a filibuster in order to block Bolton's nomination.

    As part of the drive to save the nomination, Bolton spent part of the day on Capitol Hill, where he lobbied several senators.

    The Foreign Relations Committee, meanwhile, prepared a list of about 20 questions for Bolton, including requests for e-mails and telephone logs relating to confrontations he has had with intelligence analysts, according to Senate staff.

    The Senate panel is also setting up interviews over the next few days with up to 19 people, including former intelligence officers, subordinates who reported problems with Bolton, and Bolton's former chief assistant, according to a Senate committee aide who spoke on condition of anonymity.

    Some interviews — which are being conducted mostly by phone by Republican and Democratic staff — will be with people who have already talked to the committee. New interview requests include: former State Department legal counsel William Taft, former CIA official Alan Foley, and former CIA Deputy Director John McLaughlin.

    Committee staff spoke by phone for several hours Tuesday to Melody Townsel, who has alleged that an irate Bolton chased her and harassed her — not sexually — when she was a U.S. Agency for International Development worker in Kyrgyzstan.