John Bolton has made a career out of defying Congress. During the Iran-Contra investigations, John Bolton refused to comply with Congessional demands for records. Bolton also believed that the Independent Counsel law was unconstitutional and did everything he could do preempt Congress’s efforts to investigate Iran-Contra.
Many Americans feel that the United Nations needs to be modernized and reformed and problems such as “Oil-for-Food” resolved so that such corruption cannot again occur.
Bolton has no record of building up and reforming institutions. He defies laws, believes in might makes right, and has worked to undermine the system of checks and balances that is key to American democracy.
Here is a selection of articles and key excerpts that illustrate Bolton’s contempt for American style governance:
Washington Post, December 24, 1986
Retired General Secord Refuses To Testify Before House Panel;
Reagan Urges Quick Report on Iran Affair by Senate Committee
By Tom Kenworthy, Lou Cannon
Attorney General Edwin Meese was sharply criticized by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Peter W. Rodino (D-NJ) for the Justice Department’s refusal to produce information related to the Iran-contra investigation that was requested by the panel on Dec. 11.
John Bolton, assistant Attorney General for congressional affairs, refused late Monday to comply with requests by Rodino that the Justice Department produce a broad range of documents related to the controversy and that Meese answer questions about his knowledge and involvement. In refusing, Bolton said many items requested by Rodino are “highly classified” and that no staff member of the Judiciary Committee has the proper clearances to review them.
UPI, March 19, 1987
By DANA WALKER
Attorney General Edwin Meese has grave doubts about the constitutionality of the law allowing for independent counsel to probe top officials such as those involved in the Iran-Contra scandal, a Justice Department official said Thursday.
Assistant Attorney General John Bolton, testifying before a Senate Governmental Operations subcommittee, stopped short of saying Meese believes the law is unconstitutional, despite being pressed by Sen. Carl Levin, co-sponsor of legislation to make the law permanent. The law, the 1978 Ethics in Government Act, expires in January 1988.
“There are grave doubts about the constitutionality” of key provisions of the law, including one that authorizes a special federal court — instead of the Attorney General — to appoint the independent counsel, Bolton said, adding that he personally believed the law was unconstitutional. Levin said: “I think it’s clear to everybody that the Attorney General feels that this statute is unconstitutional. Why don’t you just say it?”
Bolton said Meese would favor the law if he had more power over the scope of investigations, the appointment of the prosecutor and termination authority over the counsel. “You want us to gut the statute,” Levin said.
Former special prosecutor Archibald Cox, whose firing by President Richard Nixon in the “Saturday Night Massacre” during the Watergate scandal sparked the push for the law, agreed with Levin, later testifying that Bolton in effect was saying, “We’re for renewal of the statute with the guts taken out.”
Bolton left open the possibility the Justice Department may argue against the law if the appropriate case came up. “We would be prepared to argue against the constitutionality” of certain aspects of the law. . .
UPI, May 29, 1987
By LORI SANTOS
North, who renewed his constitutional challenge of Walsh’s authority secretly May 8 before the appeals court – apparently to avoid a grand jury subpoena – was fired from his NSC job for his role in the scandal.
He is contending that Walsh’s appointment by a special 3-judge panel is illegal because it usurps executive authority. He specifically challenged Walsh’s authority to conduct a grand jury investigation. The case is scheduled to be heard publicly by the appeals court next week. The Justice Department and the American Bar Association also filed briefs with the court in support of Walsh.
But the department backed only his parallel appointment by Attorney General Edwin Meese. That appointment, the department said, “follows a respected tradition of appointing individuals outside of the Department of Justice to aid in sensitive investigations of officials within the executive branch” and is completely within the power of the Attorney General. At the same time, however, the department noted some officials have questioned the constitutionality of the ethics law, including Assistant Attorney General John Bolton, who has expressed “grave doubts” about the act and recently told Congress President Reagan could order Walsh to give North immunity from prosecution and fire the special prosecutor if he refusedÃ¢â‚¬Â¦
AP, June 16, 1987
Justice Department Continues Attack on Independent Counsels
By PETE YOST
Assistant Attorney General John Bolton also attacked an independent counsel who has been conducting a criminal investigation of a former Justice Department official for the past 14 months. Independent counsels, who are appointed by courts under the 1978 Ethics in Government Act, are “utterly without review, utterly without supervision; nothing is too trivial for these people to investigate,” Bolton said at a news conference.
. . .”To the extent that the present statute authorizes a prosecutor to investigate and prosecute federal crimes without…accountability, and makes a prosecutor subject to the direction and control of a court rather than the executive, we believe it is unconstitutional,” said Bolton. “If this bill is enacted, we will have no choice but to recommend its disapproval by the president,” he (John Bolton) said.
Los Angeles Times, June 18, 1987
POUNDING THE TABLE (editorial)
(John) Bolton would have us believe that the department’s opposition is unrelated to the fact that Lawrence Walsh, the Iran-contra investigator, has been putting the heat on White House officials or that Attorney General Edwin Meese III is currently the subject of an independent counsel’s investigation of his role in the the Wedtech scandal or that Meese was previously investigated for giving a federal job to a person who had done him a favor. The Administration would like to get independent counsels under its thumb to remove their independence. It has nothing to do with the Constitution.
Lawyers say that if the facts are on your side, pound the facts. If the law is on your side, pound the law. If neither is on your side, pound the table. Administration officials are pounding the table, and Congress should not let them get away with it. The job of independent counsel may need some fine tuning, but the basic idea should be retained.
ABA Journal, July 1, 1987
Proposed changes in the law debated
By Debra Cassens Moss
. . .The Attorney GeneralÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Office clarified its position on the law when John Bolton, assistant attorney general for the Office of Legislative Affairs, testified before a House subcommittee in April. He said that the present law is unconstitutional unless it is construed to give the president ultimate control over the decision to prosecute. The law says the independent counsel may be removed for good cause. Bolton says good cause should include failure to follow a president’s orders to drop prosecution.
Rep. Barney Frank, the chairman of the subcommittee before which Bolton testified, complained that the Justice Department interpretation gives him a bad case of deja vu – Richard Nixon’s firing of Watergate Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox in the “Saturday Night Massacre.”
AP, July 8, 1987
House Panel Subpoenas Prosecutors In Contra-Drug-Gunrunning Probe
By BOB McHUGH
In a letter to (Subcommittee Chairman William) Hughes (D-NJ) last week, Rep. Lee Hamilton, D-IN, chairman of the House Iran-Contra committee, declined to share transcripts of the interviews. Hamilton’s letter followed an April 20 letter to Hughes from Assistant Attorney General John Bolton, refusing to make the prosecutors available to Hughes’ subcommittee. Bolton said any investigation relating to the Contras was under the jusrisdiction of the Iran-Contra committees. Hughes asked Meese again on June 12 to allow the prosecutors to be interviewed. Hughes said he received no reply.
Legal Times, March 7, 1988
Bolton Moves Up Justice Ladder; Lobbying Plans Frustrated, Official to Take Charge of Civil Branch
By Aaron Freiwald
. . .In late 1986, Bolton was the key administration representative during the Senate Judiciary Committee’s confirmation hearings for Chief Justice William Rehnquist and Associate Justice Antonin Scalia. Bolton was heavily criticized for invoking executive privilege and for steadfastly refusing to release documents relating to Rehnquist’s tenure at the Justice Dept in the 1970s. More recently, Bolton was an ever-present handler during US Circuit Judge Robert Bork’s explosive and unsuccessful nomination to the Supreme Court.
In addition to his work on judicial nominations, Bolton has often gone to the front lines for the department’s legislative agenda. He has been one of the administration’s most vocal critics of the independent-counsel law. At a press conference last June, Bolton vigorously challenged the law’s constitutionality in tones the White House later described as “intemperate.”
Bolton was also one of the Justice Department’s key legal advisers during last year’s Iran-Contra hearings. Bolton accompanied several top department officials in depositions before the House committee, including Meese and Charles Cooper, assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel. The committee has criticized the department – and thereby Bolton and his staff – for stonewalling efforts to obtain relevant documents during his investigation.
AP, January 19, 1989
White House Barred From Destroying Records
By PETE YOST
“We have filed suit only after prolonged negotiations during which no representative of the federal government, including counsels for the White House, National Security Council, and the National Archives, would assure us that these electronic materials would be retained at the end of the Reagan administration,” said Scott Armstrong, founder of the National Security Archive, a non-profit group. “The Iran-Contra affair illustrated the importance of information stored in the PROFS system,” Armstrong said in an affidavit. “Despite repeated attempts by NSC staff to shred the paper record and delete the computer record, the PROFS backup system on magnetic tape allowed investigators to reconstruct much of the Iran-Contra-related activity.”
The computer tapes “are the only existing record of many important communications within the White House and specifically within the NSC at the close of the Reagan administration,” Ms. Martin said in a memorandum filed in federal court. Destroying the tapes “will destroy an invaluable historical and political record that is available nowhere else and which Congress has on several occasions mandated be available to members of the public,” Ms. Martin’s memo said.
Assistant Attorney General John Bolton argued at the hearing that the destruction is “not some sinister conspiracy,” but rather staffers in the Reagan administration staff trying to perform “house cleaning” chores so that the Bush administration can come in with “a clean slate. The archivist has given approval to erase these systems” and none of the information has “any relevance” or “anything to do with the Iran-Contra affair,” said Bolton. Bolton said some material has already been deleted from the system, that the system is filled to capacity and that “it would be a grave impairment of the president’s ability” to conduct the transition to a new administration “if the court were to intervene. When new people come in they have to have access to the system,” said Bolton. A restraining order would impair the ability to get the administration “up and running,” he said…
The Nation, April 17, 1989
From Meese to the UN; John Bolton, nominee for Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs
By David Corn and Jefferson Morley
Bolton‘s record as Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legislative Affairs in 1986 and 1987 merits special scrutiny. He “tried to torpedo” Sen. John Kerry’s inquiry into allegations of contra drug smuggling and gunrunning, one committee aide says. When Kerry requested information from the Justice Department, Bolton‘s office gave it the long stall, a Kerry aide notes. In fact, says another Congressional aide, Bolton‘s staff worked actively with the Republican senators who opposed Kerry’s efforts.
In 1986 this chum of Meese also refused to give Peter Rodino, then chair of the House Judiciary Committee, documents concerning the Iran- Contra scandal and Meese’s involvement in it. Later, when Congressional investigators were probing charges that the Justice Department had delayed an inquiry into gunrunning to the contras, Bolton was again the spoiler. According to Hayden Gregory, chief counsel of a House Judiciary subcommittee on crime, Bolton blocked an arrangement by which his staff had agreed to let House investigators interview officials of the US Attorney’s office in Miami. Bolton refused to speak to us on the subject.
Senator Lincoln Chafee recently said this about John Bolton’s nomination to the United Nations:
Undersecretary Bolton has been an outspoken critic of the United Nations (UN). However, I have been assured that he will bring a more balanced approach to his new role.
To what job has John Bolton EVER BROUGHT A “MORE BALANCED” APPROACH?
Senator Chafee, don’t be a stooge for promises. . .Study his record carefully?
Please tell us why you don’t find this man’s record in every government position he has held just outrageous and antithetical to what Americans would want from their political leaders.
— Steve Clemons
(ed. note: Journalist and producer Roger Trilling and I are working on a potential article together, and he deserves kudos for this research.)