WASHINGTON – At the State Department's urging, Senate Democrats narrowed their request for internal government documents bearing on John R. Bolton's (search) fitness to be the United States' ambassador to the United Nations.
Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee have threatened to force a delay in the panel's planned Thursday vote on Bolton unless they get the information they want. They planned a private strategy session Tuesday and were hoping to receive more material from the State Department later in the day, said Norm Kurz, a spokesman for the committee's senior Democrat, Joseph R. Biden Jr. (search) of Delaware.
The movement on the documents could be a sign that the two sides were steering away from a new clash that would further delay the committee's vote, though Democrats said they had received nothing by early afternoon.
Last month, Republicans and Democrats on the GOP-led committee postponed the vote on Bolton to May 12 so they could investigate allegations that he abused underlings or colleagues and may have misused government intelligence to suit ideological ends.
Biden intends to go ahead with the vote, "so long as the other end of that bargain is held up — namely to provide the information, the documents, in a timely way," Kurz said.
A State Department spokesman said Monday that the department had given the Senate committee everything it planned to provide. But late Monday, Democrats pared back their request to focus on questions of whether Bolton misused government analyses about Syrian weapons capability, congressional aides said.
The committee has finished unsworn interviews with people who worked with Bolton or knew him. One of the more dramatic assessments of Bolton's temperament and conduct in office came from an unlikely source — the top aide to former Secretary of State Colin Powell.
"When people ignore diplomacy ... in order to push their pet rocks in other areas, it bothers me," former Powell chief of staff Larry Wilkerson told the committee staff.
As The Associated Press reported last week, Wilkerson also told the committee that tension between Bolton and former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage was such that Armitage said he or Wilkerson must personally vet Bolton's public statements.
Armitage startled even some Bolton backers last week when he told the AP that Bolton is "eminently qualified" for the U.N. post.
Asked if Bolton was a good choice, Armitage replied carefully, "It was the president's choice and I support my president."