What IF John Bolton Gets a Recess Appointment to U.N. Ambassadorship?


Well. . .we win then anyway.
There are many who go somewhat haywire with the thought that John Bolton might get a recess appointment rather than trudging through the Senate to get confirmation. I don’t.
The President has a right to make recess appointments, and the Senate has the right to request evidence and documents about an Executive Branch political appointment, consider this information, and either confirm or deny the nominee. If Bush ends up making a recess appointment of John Bolton, he’ll go there through the back door and will have little political latitude.
I mention this because National Review suggested that a “recess appointment” may be all that John Bolton can expect at this point.
The article practically concedes defeat to those who have stopped the process on Bolton from moving forward unless the White House subordinates itself to demands from Senators Biden, Voinovich, Dodd, Rockefeller, Boxer, and dozens of others who are sending G.W. Bush a reminder that he is not, in fact, a monarch.
The National Review editors are refreshingly pessimistic about Bolton’s chances. Here is an excerpt from the piece:

All of this goes to show that Democrats are looking for any possible reason to put off Bolton’s confirmation. The White House is standing firm against the latest Democratic document request, as it should. If it were to provide the intercepts to the Democrats, it might as well be handing them directly over to Doug Jehl. But in the absence of an agreement over the documents, it is unclear that the logjam will break over Bolton. The cloture vote last week failed 56-42. But Republicans have 58 votes, because Frist voted “no” for technical procedural reasons and Arlen Specter was not in attendance. The White House strategy seems to be to hope that the sour Senate Democratic mood will somehow brighten next week, dislodging a couple of Democrats to get to 60 on cloture.
Maybe the White House is right. But we are skeptical. In fact, the Democratic strategy seems more realistic — delay, and hope for further erosion in Bolton’s Republican support. The first to go was George Voinovich, and now John Thune has gone south. Who’s next?

The problem is that recess appointments — while not so rare in American history — require some acceptable number of “recess days” to justify them.
According to a quite handy Congressional Research Service document by Henry Hogue on recess appointments, no such appointment has been made in the last 20 years during a Congressional recess period of less than ten days.
This excerpt is quite interesting:

How Long Must the Senate Be in Recess Before a President May Make a Recess Appointment?
The Constitution does not specify the length of time that the Senate must be in recess before the President may make a recess appointment. Over the last century, as shorter recesses have become more commonplace, Attorneys General and Offices of Legal Counsel have offered differing views on this issue. Most recently, in 1993, a Department of Justice brief implied that the President may make a recess appointment during a recess of more than three days.
Appointments made during short recesses (less than 30 days), however, have sometimes aroused controversy, and they may involve a political cost for the President. Controversy has been particularly acute in instances where Senators perceive that the President is using the recess appointment process to circumvent the confirmation process for a nominee who is opposed in the Senate. Although President Theodore Roosevelt once made recess appointments during an intersession recess of less than one day, the shortest length of a recess during which appointments have been made during the past 20 years was 10 days.

I wouldn’t put it past the administration to push Bolton through on a recess appointment if they had 15 minutes to do it, not to say 10 whole days. This administration is comfortable with hardball tactics, with re-writing the rules of government, and with undermining the delicate framework of checks and balances that are the core of American democracy. So, even though 10 days is the shortest recess period in recent history that such an apppointment has been made, I would argue that the three-day benchmark is probably the one that the White House will use if it takes this route.
So, what are the options in the coming months? Here is a copy of the annual Congressional calendar.
According to this, the next possibility for a “3-day minimum” recess appointment would be between July 4th and July 8th of this year.
Then, there would be no other possibility of a recess appointment for John Bolton until August.
With serious conservatives — like National Review editors — advocating a recess appointment, Bolton’s chances of confirmation are looking ever more bleak.
But sources close to the majority staff of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee report that it was not until the George Voinovich “Dear Colleague” letter that John Bolton, himself, began to consider a recess appointment. Until then, it was off the table — and Bolton has remained doggedly committed to seeing the Senate confirmation process through to the end.
But after Voinovich’s startling and important move, Bolton budged. . .allegedly.
TWN could not agree more with National Review‘s assessment. Just to remind:

But we are skeptical. In fact, the Democratic strategy seems more realistic — delay, and hope for further erosion in Bolton’s Republican support. The first to go was George Voinovich, and now John Thune has gone south. Who’s next?

The ball is in Vice President Cheney’s court. He’s the one pushing Bolton so hard.
Release ALL documents — NSA intercepts, U.S. officials’ names, Matthew Freedman’s client list, and ALL info on Bolton vs. the sane members of the Bush Administration on Syria policy — and you can have an up-down vote on John Bolton.
But the way the White House is dragging its feet on the evidence, those who want to beat Bolton in an up-down vote have gained extraordinary ground.
— Steve Clemons