Vice President Cheney used his time on CNN’s Larry King Live this weekend to do some Bolton cheerleading, asserting that John Bolton would be confirmed.
I have several comments on Vice President Cheney’s regular expressions of “confidence” in Mr. Bolton.
First of all, Cheney has been saying that he was ‘confident’ that Bolton would be confirmed from the very beginning of this process. That just hasn’t added much to the Bolton nomination. If anything, Cheney’s disregard for moderate Republicans and for Senate authority has undermined Bolton’s chances.
Second, Cheney said:
We’ve got the votes to confirm him. I’m convinced we will get him confirmed. We just need three more and I think we’ll get those when they come back.
He hasn’t done his mathematics right since the 56-42 vote, which was NOT a vote on Bolton but rather a vote on Senate rights vs. the administration when it comes to making evidence requests of the White House. The Cheney-Bolton wing of the administration have chosen to defy Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Richard Lugar’s evidence requests — which include not only the NSA intercepts but also information related to the employment of Matthew C. Freedman in Bolton’s office as well as all material related to Bolton’s standoff with colleagues on America’s Syria policy.
Senators Mark Pryor, Mary Landrieu, Dianne Feinstein, and John Thune have all explicitly stated that they will oppose Bolton. Ben Nelson is still an unknown. Joseph Lieberman and John McCain, while the former voted against cloture and McCain in favor, both believe that the White House must yield on the documents requests for there to be a vote.
If the White House now defies John McCain in his deal-making mode, McCain will also oppose cloture on the Bolton nomination.
Senator Susan Collins has made documents requests of the White House regarding base closing decisions. We’ll see if the administration is completely compliant, but she too may consider a vote on cloture when it comes to the rights of the Senate to demand materials from the administration that fit within the oversight responsibilities of the Senate.
Cheney’s math is wrong. The momentum is clearly AGAINST Bolton getting a vote — UNLESS the White House yields on the information, which it thus far is unwilling to do.
Lastly, Cheney stated on CNN’s Larry King Live:
The information that they’ve requested basically has been made available to the chairman and ranking member of the Intelligence committees. There’s nothing there. This material has been reviewed, the information they’re asking for. I think it’s just an excuse.
There may be nothing there. There may be a great deal. It is not up to the Vice President of the United States or the White House spokesman to determine whether there is something there or not. The Senate investigators are the ones who can best connect dots between Bolton’s objectives and behavior in one arena — and his interest in U.S. officials’ names in NSA intercepts in other arenas.
Cheney’s comment is offensive and shows utter disregard for the Constitutional authority and responsibilities of the Senate. If there is nothing there, then show the materials to the Senators of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
These materials have “not been reviewed” until that takes place.
And as stated before, the NSA intercept material was one item among several requested by Senators before the May 19th hearing took place and before the May 12th deadline for such requests. There are others that have not been met — particularly on Syria policy that Bolton was attempting to up-end and on the role and private client list of Bolton special assistant Matthew C. Freedman.
This Bolton Battle is far from over. In fact, the more “confident” Dick Cheney seems to be, the worse Bolton’s chances of nomination seem to get.
— Steve Clemons