While rumors and hints that President Bush will give John Bolton a recess appointment to the UN sometime early next week continue to swirl, opponents of the nomination have seized on the latest developments and are calling for Bush to withdraw Bolton’s name, or at least not to send him to New York without the Senate’s support. DNC Chairman Howard Dean issued a statement on Friday saying:
Failing to reveal his involvement in an ongoing State Department-CIA investigation in his Senate questionnaire, raises very serious questions about John Bolton’s credibility. John Bolton and the Bush Administration must stop stonewalling and come clean about Bolton’s role in these two investigations that have cast a dark cloud of corruption over the White House. To preserve any remaining confidence in the integrity of Bush’s foreign policy team, Bush must not use a recess appointment to install Bolton at the United Nations
Thirty-five Democratic members of the Senate, along with Independent Jim Jeffords of Vermont, sent a letter to Bush late Friday urging him to withdraw John Bolton’s name. The letter, available here in PDF form, reads:
In light of the fact that John Bolton was not truthful to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the questionnaire he swore was truthful, we ask that you do not make a recess appointment of Mr. Bolton to be the Ambassador to the United Nations and instead submit a new nomination to the Senate.
Mr. Bolton’s excuse that he ‘didn’t recall being interviewed by the State Department’s Inspector General’ is simply not believable. How can you forget an interview about an issue so important that the United States Senate unanimously passed an amendment stating that Congress supports ‘the thorough and expeditious investigation by the Inspector General of the Department of State and the Inspector General of the Central Intelligence Agency into the documents … that the President relied on to conclude that Iraq had attempted to obtain uranium from Africa’? The amendment was cosponsored by the Chairmen of both the Foreign Relations Committee and the Intelligence Committee.
Mr. President, we know you are engaged in an effort to strengthen our relationships throughout the world. Sending someone to the United Nations who has not been confirmed by the United States Senate and now who has admitted to not being truthful on a document so important that it requires a sworn affidavit is going to set our efforts back in many ways.
I cannot read all of the names with sufficient certainty to list them, but the PDF file contains the signatures of those members who signed the letter.
As I wrote last night, with all the vetting that has got to be done in preparing and verifying the truthfulness of the disclosure questionnaires, it is incredibly difficult to believe that this was a case of simple forgetfulness. That just doesn’t pass the smell test.
Simply allowing Bolton to “correct” the record now is not enough: the Senate has a responsibility to act, and even those Republicans who may support John Bolton should stand up and make clear that the Senate will not be misled.
Since I’ve been writing, Bloomberg has reported that Rhode Island’s Lincoln Chafee has expressed new doubts about the Bolton nomination in light of these developments, saying they may cause him to reconsider his support for Bolton. “There should be some explanation,” Chafee said. “I would certainly want to give him a chance to defend the inaccuracy.” The Rhode Islander joined other Republicans, in suggesting that Bush should not give Bolton a recess appointment, saying that step “would be a mistake…The nomination is so controversial I think it deserves a Senate vote.”
Chafee is correct. The nomination deserves a vote: a strong, bipartisan no vote.
– Jeremy Dibbell (Charging RINO)