Bush Appoints Bolton as U.N. Envoy, Bypassing Senate
By TIMOTHY WILLIAMS
Published: August 1, 2005
President Bush bypassed the Senate confirmation process today and appointed John R. Bolton as the new United States ambassador to the United Nations.
At the White House, President Bush announced his decision today with John R. Bolton at his side.
The appointment, while Congress is in recess, ends a months-long standoff between the White House and Senate Democrats who deem Mr. Bolton unfit for the job and have been holding up his confirmation.
"I chose John because of his vast experience in foreign policy, his integrity and his willingness to confront difficult problems head on," Mr. Bush said in making the announcement at the White House.
Referring to the difficulty of the confirmation process, the president said that "partisan delaying tactics by a handful of senators," had denied Mr. Bolton "the up-and-down vote that he deserves."
The president has the power to fill vacancies without Senate approval while Congress is not in session, an action known as a recess appointment. Mr. Bolton's term will expire at the beginning of the next session of Congress, in January 2007.
The move comes after 36 senators signed a letter to the president last week, saying that Mr. Bolton was "not truthful" while answering questions by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in March, and should not be given a recess appointment. Some Republicans have said the approval of Mr. Bolton is long past due and that Mr. Bush is well within his rights to make the recess appointment.
Some senators, including some key Republicans, have also raised questions about Mr. Bolton over his history of criticizing the United Nations and over charges that he has tried to influence intelligence assessments to conform to his views.
His nomination has the support of the majority of senators, but fewer than 60 - the number needed to forestall a filibuster that Democrats had threatened until Mr. Bolton answered questions, particularly about his use of classified intelligence about conversations involving administration colleagues.
Democrats had also been seeking more documents from the White House regarding Mr. Bolton's past service, a request that some Republicans say is not necessary.
Bush to Appoint Bolton to UN Post
Monday 01 August 2005
President to proceed with recess appointment on Monday, source tells NBC.
Washington - Frustrated by Democrats, President Bush will circumvent the Senate on Monday and install embattled nominee John Bolton to be ambassador to the United Nations, a senior administration official told NBC News.
Bush has the power to fill vacancies without Senate approval while Congress is in recess. Under the Constitution, a recess appointment during the lawmakers' August break would last until the next session of Congress, which begins in January 2007.
In advance of Bush's announcement, Democrats said Bolton would start his new job on the wrong foot in a recess appointment.
"He's damaged goods. This is a person who lacks credibility," Sen. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut, a senior Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said on "Fox News Sunday."
Bush, he said, should think again before using a recess appointment to place Bolton at the United Nations while the Senate is on its traditional August break.
On Friday, White House press secretary Scott McClellan gave the strongest indication yet that Bush planned to do so, noting that the UN General Assembly has its annual meeting in mid-September.
"It's important that we get our permanent representative in place," he said. "This is a critical time and it's important to continue moving forward on comprehensive reform."
Bush counselor Dan Bartlett said the president had not made a decision on whether to make a recess appointment.
"He retains that right to do, but he will continue to work with the Senate as long as he can," Barlett said. "But he has not made a decision."
Could affect Bolton effectiveness, Roberts nomination On the other hand, the end run around the Senate confirmation process would certainly annoy senators - particularly Democrats - at a time when Bush's nomination of John Roberts to serve on the Supreme Court hangs in the balance. It also could hamper Bolton at the United Nations, by sending him there as a short-timer without the Senate's backing.
Bolton's nomination, announced in March by the president, was controversial from the start and has been stalled in the Senate by Democrats.
Critics say Bolton, who has been accused of mistreating subordinates and has been openly skeptical about the United Nations, would be ill-suited to the sensitive diplomatic task at the world body. The White House says the former undersecretary of state for arms control, who has long been one of Bush's most conservative foreign policy advisers, is exactly the man to whip the United Nations into shape.
Last week, critics raised a fresh concern, saying Bolton had neglected to tell Congress he had been interviewed in a government investigation into faulty prewar intelligence on Iraq.
The State Department said Thursday that Bolton was interviewed in 2003 by the department inspector general. The office was conducting a joint investigation with the CIA into allegations that Iraq attempted to buy nuclear materials from Niger. Bolton had earlier submitted a questionnaire to the Senate in which he had said he had not testified to a grand jury or been interviewed by investigators in any inquiry over the past five years.
Republican Sen. Lincoln Chafee said he would vote against Bolton - if given the chance - and would oppose a recess appointment if it is accurate that Bolton's form was originally incorrect. "Any intimidation of the facts, or suppression of information getting to the public which led us to the war, absolutely should preclude him from a recess appointment," said Chafee, of Rhode Island.
Also Friday, 35 Democratic senators and one independent, Sen. Jim Jeffords of Vermont, sent a letter to Bush urging against a recess appointment. "Sending someone to the United Nations who has not been confirmed by the United States Senate and now who has admitted to not being truthful on a document so important that it requires a sworn affidavit is going to set our efforts back in many ways," the letter said.