Published April 19, 2005
WASHINGTON – John Bolton (search), President Bush's nominee to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, will win Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation Tuesday when it meets for a vote, senior Republican sources told FOX News.
Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada tried to stop the committee from meeting on Tuesday, using a procedural move on the Senate floor to delay the proceedings. However, Republicans figured out a countermove that would recess the body in the afternoon to prevent objections to committee meetings.
Chairman Richard Lugar (search) of Indiana took the unusual step on Monday of releasing his statement in support of Bolton one day early. In it, he said that his panel has fully vetted allegations that disputes over weapons of mass destruction programs may have led Bolton to bully government specialists with whom he disagreed.
"The charge that he improperly sought to influence intelligence conclusions is a serious one, and it is reasonable to assess his conduct in these encounters. But no one should be surprised to find that episodes of conflict have occurred in this environment over the course of a four-year tenure," Lugar's statement says.
Democratic Sens. Joe Biden (search) of Delaware, the ranking minority on the committee, and Chris Dodd of Connecticut delayed the vote on Bolton's committee confirmation for a week. Biden said this weekend that he knew of other cases that raise more questions about Bolton's temperament. On "FOX News Sunday," Biden said unanswered questions still hang over Bolton's nomination.
"We're waiting for Bolton's answers to find out whether or not he's giving us honest responses. I think his credibility is in question as well," Biden said.
When the committee does meet, Dodd's spokesman said the senator will ask for a closed session so the committee can hear from intelligence officials about information Bolton requested relating to National Security Agency communications.
According to Dodd spokesman Marvin Fast, Bolton asked for and received the identities of 10 U.S. officials involved in such secret NSA intercepts during the past four years.
"It's not clear what purpose Mr. Bolton was using this information for," Fast said. "The senator is concerned because it's his understanding that this information is rarely requested, and he wants to ensure that it was for official purposes only."
Biden said he wants to review a new charge that Bolton allegedly harassed a woman named Melody Townsel (search) 11 years ago when Bolton was in the private sector and Townsel was a U.S. government humanitarian aid subcontractor. Townsel told her story last week on Air America, the liberal talk radio network.
"He was not just very difficult to deal with, but abusive, confrontational and ended up kind of chugging some things in a meeting and pounding on hotel doors and trotting across hotel lobbies to get to me, and it was just uncomfortable and kind of creepy," Townsel said.
Bolton's backers deny the charge, and no one has surfaced to corroborate it. Townsel is a self-described liberal Democrat and organizer of a Dallas chapter of Mothers Opposing Bush (search).
Lugar's statement said Bolton has answered all relevant questions about his conduct.
"It is now time to make a decision. Senators have a wealth of information on which to base their judgment. My impression is that members of the committee have made up their minds about the nomination," the statement reads.
The White House spokesman Scott McClellan added on Tuesday that Democrats have delayed the committee vote long enough. McClellan said Bolton has adequately addressed all the issues, and Bush has no second thoughts about his nominee. "Absolutely not," he said.
An aide to Sen. Chuck Hagel (search), R-Neb., who said this weekend that he was troubled by allegations about Bolton's "method of operation," told FOX News on Monday that the senator is aware of Townsel's story and no new charges have been raised to shake Hagel's support for Bolton.
A spokesman for Rhode Island Republican Sen. Lincoln Chafee (search) also repeated statements that Chafee intended to back Bolton, giving Bolton unanimous support from Republicans and enough to make it to the Senate for a full confirmation vote by that body.
If Bolton lost a committee vote, Bush would have to resubmit his nomination or appoint Bolton to the post during a Senate recess.
Click in the box near the top of the story to watch a report by FOX News' Major Garrett.