White House Defends Bolton

John R. Bolton, President Bush's nominee for U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, makes a statement to reporters at the State Department in this Monday, March 7, 2005 in Washington. Challenging the White House, 59 former American diplomats are urging the Senate to reject John R. Bolton's nomination to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
John R. Bolton's nomination to be United Nations ambassador has been thrown into limbo amid a fresh set of allegations that include a charge that he chased a woman through a Moscow hotel a decade ago, behaving like a "madman."

The Bush administration is nevertheless standing by its troubled nominee. White House press secretary Scott McClellan said Wednesday that the allegations against Bolton were "trumped-up" by Senate Democrats, reports CBS News Correspondent Mark Knoller.

Among the new allegations were those of a Dallas businesswoman who said Bolton grew irrationally angry over a business dispute, chased her through a hotel and threw things at her at an international conference in Moscow a decade ago.

Bolton was "genuinely behaving like a madman," Melody Townsel, a former U.S. Agency for International Development worker, wrote in a letter to the committee read aloud at Tuesday's hearing by Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del.

Biden said there was independent corroboration of Townsel's account.

Townsel is a liberal Democrat who actively opposed President Bush's re-election.

Bolton's nomination encountered a road block on Tuesday when a few Republicans on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee joined Democrats in asking to delay a vote on Bolton in favor of a fresh look at allegations of inappropriate conduct.

The committee set no new date for a vote, but a delay of at least two weeks seemed likely. Democrats planned to use the time to investigate new allegations that Bolton abused his authority and mistreated subordinates, and to look into Bolton's unusual request for the names of other U.S. officials whose communications were secretly picked up by a U.S. spy agency.

The postponement was a political defeat for Mr. Bush — at least in the short term — and opened the possibility that the nomination could fail.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said she understands the Senate needs time to weigh the issue of his nomination, but reaffirmed her strong endorsement of Bolton.

"I continue to believe that John Bolton would be a really great
U.N. permanent representative," Rice told reporters as she flew from Russia to Lithuania on Wednesday.

Ohio Republican Sen. George Voinovich surprised colleagues on Tuesday by saying that Democrats had raised "some legitimate issues" that need to be explored.

"The dynamic has changed," Sen. Lincoln Chafee, R-R.I., said after the tense committee meeting. "A lot of reservations surfaced today. It's a new day."