Harry Reid Speaks Boldly on Bolton this Morning: The White House Will Lose Again Thursday


Senate Minority Leader gave this statement this morning:

~ From the outset of the debate on John Bolton’s nomination, Senate Democrats have had a clear and consistent position: If the Administration works in good faith to give the Senate the information it deserves, Senate Democrats are ready to immediately give this nomination an up or down vote.
~ We said this in May and it remains our position today.
~ Despite the Administration’s refusal to turn over any of the requested information during this time period, Senator Frist informed me yesterday that he is inclined to seek another vote on the Bolton nomination.
~ While he is certainly within his rights to do so, unless the Administration changes course before this vote is held, the outcome will be the same as it was last month and here is why.
~ The history and precedent in the Senate make it clear that the Senate has a right to information that bears directly on the fitness of a potential nominee to serve. Every other Administration has recognized the Senate’s rights and provided the needed information. Every Administration except this one.
~ Many colleagues on the other side of the aisle have stood up for the Senate’s right to get information from the executive branch in the past. My colleagues have made it clear with their words and deeds that it was perfectly legitimate for the Senate to withhold action on an executive branch nominee until the executive branch provided certain information, even if the information requested had nothing to do with the nominee in question.
~ In this instance, we are seeking information that bears directly on the fitness of John Bolton to serve as our representative to the United Nations. And we are not engaging in a fishing expedition. We are seeking clearly defined documents and information about two very important issues:

— Did Mr. Bolton attempt to exaggerate what Congress would be told about Syria’s alleged WMD capabilities?
— Did Mr. Bolton use, and perhaps misuse, highly classified intelligence intercepts to spy on bureaucratic rivals who disagreed with his views or for other inappropriate purposes?

~ The Administration position on these requests has been that political appointees are qualified to see this information but the duly elected representatives of the American people are not. This is unacceptable.
~ Senate Democrats have repeatedly demonstrated our good faith to break the current impasse and give Mr. Bolton a vote. Yesterday, I heard some of my Republican colleagues assert that Democrats have been shifting the goalposts on resolving this issue.
~ They are absolutely right. We have — toward their goal line. Just last week Senators Biden and Dodd made another effort to resolve the impasse over the Bolton nomination.
~ Everyone in the Senate and outside this body should understand that this offer moved significantly away from our initial request in a sincere effort to resolve this situation. Everyone should also understand that unfortunately, this latest effort to reach an accommodation with the White House has apparently met the same fate as previous efforts to work things out: Silence from the Administration.
~ Even yesterday Sen. Rockefeller, the Vice Chairman offered his assistance to break the impasse and sent a letter to Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte.
~ We have said publicly if this Administration — like previous Administrations — respects the requests of the Senate, we will immediately move to grant Bolton an up or down vote. I stand by that pledge today. I hope my colleagues on the other side of the aisle recognize we are following their precedent with our actions today. I also hope this Administration brings an end to its pattern of abusing its powers and treats this co-equal branch of government with the respect it deserves.

Compelling. . .
— Steve Clemons