Tectonic Plates Moving on Bolton Nomination: Republicans Lining Up to Call for Document Release


Senators Trent Lott, Susan Collins, Lincoln Chafee, John McCain, George Voinovich and Lamar Alexander have all stated that they believe that the White House should release ALL requested documents on Bolton.
These are:

1. NSA Intercepts and names of U.S. officials redacted in them and requested by Bolton
2. All preparatory and deliberative material and communications on Syria WMD testimony that was to have been presented in 2003
3. The client list of Matthew C. Freedman who continued to work as a lobbyist while he worked as a six-figure “special assistant” in John Bolton’s office and being listed in the State Department staff directory

With so many Republicans now joining the Democrats and conceding the point of principle to Senators Biden, Dodd, and Boxer on these document requests, the White House is in a tough position.
If it continues to stubbornly resist giving in to the Democratic leadership on the documents, the White House is stiffing its own team. The costs to the White House are rising precipitously on the stalled Bolton nomination.
TWN has no idea whether the White House will yield. It made sense for them to yield long ago. That would have been the rational calculation — so rational assessments about what the White House might do now are not necessarily productive indicators.
There is basically one working week to go before the 4th of July Senate recess — so time is also tricky.
If the White House does provide a package of documents and provides access to Senate Democrats on the NSA intercepts, there must be time to investigate the materials, connect whatever dots need to be connected, and then make a public statement on the relevance of these materials to the larger questions about John Bolton’s “fitness” to be America’s UN Ambassador.
For about half of the Senate, Bolton’s record — as is — is already problematic enough that they will vote against John Bolton on an up or down vote.
If further “concerns” emerge after reviewing the blocked documents, then Bolton’s nomination in a full floor vote is quite doubtful. Senators know that this debate on Bolton has reached a sufficiently high level of public awareness that they can’t easily turn a blind eye to the pattern of national security recklessness and professional and personal abuse in Bolton’s record.
The vote will be too consequential for some. Watch Lisa Murkowski. I think that she’s had it with this Bolton mess and is irritated with the White House for shoving such an inappropriate and flawed candidate down the gullet of the Senate.
Word is that John Bolton may not accept a recess appointment. The bottom line there is that any U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. not confirmed by the Senate will not be perceived as legitimate. Without legitimacy, the person in this position can accomplish little of real value as he or she would have no perceived “weight” of the American public behind him or her.
That may not stop the White House from trying to compel Bolton from accepting a recess appointment. However, all of this depends on how Bush, Cheney and Rove react to the reality that an increasingly large number of Republicans are calling for the same documents Democrats are requesting to be released.
This was never a fully partisan battle — as much of the media described it. The effort against Bolton would have been futile without the brave testimony by a number of leading Republicans like Lawrence Wilkerson, Carl Ford, and others. Other Republicans worked feverishly behind the scenes to try and convince various Republican Senators why Bolton was such a poor choice.
Now, Republicans have joined Dems in the document requests.
The White House — particularly Karl Rove — is digging in and arguing that Dems keep moving the “goal posts.” Well the Republican Senators who have spoken know where the goal posts are. They are clear.
Give up the documents. Look at the materials. Connect the dots.
My bet right now is that what we learn will end this matter. Bolton will be voted down, and the White House will quickly try and distract the nation with other news.
More soon.
— Steve Clemons