WASHINGTON – The battle in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee over the nomination of John Bolton (search) as ambassador to the United Nations will come to a head next Tuesday.
Committee chairman Richard Lugar, R-Ind., has put Democrats on notice in a letter to ranking member Joe Biden, D-Del., on Thursday that the panel has, or is about to get, everything it needs to make a decision, and he expects a vote on April 19.
The committee is seeking to declassify and post online more raw documents from its investigation, as Bolton has requested. Meanwhile, Democratic aides are hunting for witnesses who can substantiate claims that Bolton was a "serial abuser" of independent-minded analysts in the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Reseach (search), the agency's intelligence arm.
Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer of California sounded confident on Wednesday that the search will bear fruit.
"There's more than one person. There's also a second person, there's a second person and maybe a third," she said of witnesses wanting to speak of Bolton's verbal abuse as boss.
Democratic Sen. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut on Tuesday also hinted at one such possible case.
"Mr. Bolton's office reacted negatively to another INR analyst, who had the nerve to attach INR analysis to a CIA WINPAC analysis related to China," Dodd said, referring to the spy agency's Weapons Intelligence Non Proliferation and Arms Control Center (search).
FOX News has learned this case does not involve Bolton personally, only his Chief of Staff Frederick Fleitz (search).
Still, Democrats are probing at least four other cases "of possible concern," a major effort that will amount to nothing if it does not change the mind of Rhode Island Republican Sen. Lincoln Chafee, whose swing vote could block the nomination from a floor vote.
Asked on Wednesday if he expects to learn anything that would sway him against Bolton, Chafee said he was still unmoved.
"No, but I could be surprised. I don't think so. What I've been hearing is that nothing new is going to come out," Chafee said.
Bolton got another boost on Thursday from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who in an interview with FOX News' Sean Hannity, sought to dispel questions Democrats have raised about Bolton's temperament.
"We all use colorful language from time to time," Rice said. "This is a very good diplomat and he has a lot of people who work for him who are loyal to him. He's a good manager."
Insiders from President Bush's first term say the heavy push to block Bolton could be motivated by Bolton's frequent and sole stance at the State Department in support of Bush-Cheney foreign policy.
So embattled was Bolton's office, aides likened the State Department to "Fort Apache, the Bronx." Former White House aides like David Frum said the whole department was mutinous.
"It was a mutiny. You had senior officials making jokes at State Department meetings about the president's policies and about the president's close aides, by name. You would have senior officials meeting with foreign dignitaries, foreign officials and disparaging to them the president's policies and the people around the president," Frum said.
One former assistant secretary of state said the department compiled a "mixed record" of supporting the president's policies.
"There was, perhaps, some difference in the implementation and the emphasis of the implementation different from what the president may have wanted," former official Otto Reich said.
Bolton was on Capitol Hill on Thursday for a meeting. If his nomination makes it to the Senate floor next week, FOX News has learned that at least three Democrats are leaning toward voting for him.
Click in the box near the top of the story to watch a report by FOX News' James Rosen.