Senator Joe Biden has sent a letter to Secretary of State Rice asking her to clarify whether John Bolton has testified before the Fitzgerald grand jury. (Thinkprogress has the text; thanks to snowbird42 in comments for bringing it to my attention). MSNBC reported that he has — and it is standing by its story. An anonymous senior administration official has been denying it, most notably to Suzanne Malveaux over at CNN.
Biden’s letter deserves to be answered promptly. This is not the sort of question that can be left hanging over the head of a nomination, and, if unresolved, it would present a serious political obstacle to a recess appointment. Secretary Rice, unfortunately, doesn’t have a stellar record of responding to Congressional requests for information, so if this is going to come out in a timely matter, it has to be done by the media. If anyone’s looking, Stygius has got the questions that need to be asked just a few inches down the page.
If Bolton failed to report that he was questioned by the grand jury on his disclosure form (and remember how broad the question is), his only real out is if the questioning took place after March, when he initially filled out the report. Today’s Washington Post Rove roundup, though, hints that “most of the questioning of CIA and State Department officials took place in 2004…” Which makes sense, since we’ve known for some time that Fitzgerald’s investigation has been wrapping up for some time. And even if the testimony was more recent, Bolton’s failure to amend his disclosure form suggests an intent to deceive.
— Dave Meyer
Update: Reuters reports on the letter:
California Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer said Bolton, a blunt-spoken conservative who has drawn fire for his abrasive style, should not be sent to the U.N. post until lawmakers have a definite answer on the veracity of his response.
Hat tip to guest blogger Stygius.