WASHINGTON – The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said Sunday he expected John R. Bolton (search), the contentious nominee to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, to win a party-line vote in the committee this week.
"Republicans, I suspect, will vote in favor of John Bolton; Democrats, I suspect, will vote unanimously against him," Sen. Richard Lugar (search), R-Ind., said on CBS' "Face the Nation." That would send Bolton's nomination to the full Senate on a 10-8 margin when the GOP-led committee meets Thursday.
Lugar said he thought the vote, delayed since mid-April, would come off as scheduled. But he acknowledged that Democrats who want to get more information about Bolton have many procedural ways to stall the vote.
Four committee Republicans supported a postponement of that April vote in order to review fresh allegations against Bolton. While none has indicated plans to oppose Bolton, it would take only one Republican to side with the committee's eight Democrats to create a tie vote — jeopardizing the nomination.
One of those four Republicans, Sen. Chuck Hagel (search), said on ABC's "This Week" that he has yet to learn anything about Bolton that would keep him from supporting the nominee. But Hagel, R-Neb., said he was reserving his vote until he heard all the facts.
Bolton has been accused of trying to get subordinates whose intelligence information he opposed fired and of having a combustible personality inappropriate for a U.N. ambassador.
The top Democrat on the committee is still awaiting information about Bolton that he requested from the State Department. Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., raised the possibility of trying to delay the committee vote if he does not get the material.
The documents include an accounting of instances in which Bolton sought names and details of U.S. officials whose communications were intercepted by the National Security Agency.
Biden also sought records regarding Bolton's assertions that Cuba and Sudan were bent on developing weapons of mass destruction and on China's proliferation of weapons technology. Bolton has been the State Department's arms control chief.
"The real issue here is how far did John Bolton stretch the truth or try to stretch the facts relating to intelligence," Biden said.
Lugar said he continues to believe that Bolton is the right man for the job.
"I have no doubts in all the testimony we've already uncovered ... that John Bolton has been blunt, some would say even more than that. Some would say intimidating, abusive, tried to get people fired," Lugar said. "But at the end of the day, nobody was fired. People's feelings may have been bent out of shape."
Lugar added, "Somebody that bends things out of shape may be needed to wrench around the U.N."
Also Sunday, former CIA Deputy Director John McLaughlin confirmed he told the Senate committee that Bolton tried to have a government intelligence analyst ousted in a dispute over Cuba.
"A subordinate came to me and said that Mr. Bolton was seeking transfer of one of our employees, and I objected to that, and said that we wouldn't do it," McLaughlin said in a televised interview.
McLaughlin said "not in my personal experience" had he heard of such an effort by a policy-maker. McLaughlin added that the committee did not ask him whether he thought it appropriate for Bolton to be U.N. ambassador.