The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said yesterday that he suspected John R. Bolton, the contentious nominee to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, would win a party-line vote in the committee this week.
“Republicans, I suspect, will vote in favor of John Bolton; Democrats, I suspect, will vote unanimously against him,” Sen. Richard G. Lugar, Indiana Republican, said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
Such a vote would send Mr. Bolton’s nomination to the full Senate on a 10-8 margin when the Republican-led committee meets Thursday.
Mr. Lugar said he thought the vote, delayed since mid-April, would come off as scheduled, but he acknowledged that Democrats who want to get more information about Mr. Bolton have many procedural ways to stall the vote.
Four committee Republicans supported a postponement of that April vote in order to review fresh accusations against Mr. Bolton. While none has announced against Mr. Bolton, only one Republican would have to side with the committee’s eight Democrats to create a tie vote, jeopardizing the nomination.
One of those four Republicans, Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, said on ABC’s “This Week” that he has not learned anything about Mr. Bolton that would keep him from supporting the nominee, but would not say definitively which way he would vote.
The top Democrat on the committee is still awaiting information about Mr. Bolton that he requested from the State Department. Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., Delaware Democrat, raised the possibility of trying to delay the committee vote if he does not get the material.
The documents include an accounting of instances in which Mr. Bolton sought names and details of U.S. officials whose communications were intercepted by the National Security Agency.
Mr. Biden also sought records regarding Mr. Bolton’s assertions that Cuba and Sudan were bent on developing weapons of mass destruction and on China’s proliferation of weapons technology. Mr. Bolton has been the State Department’s arms-control chief.
“The real issue here is how far did John Bolton stretch the truth or try to stretch the facts relating to intelligence,” Mr. Biden said.
Mr. Lugar maintains that Mr. Bolton is the right man for the job.
“I have no doubts in all the testimony we’ve already uncovered … that John Bolton has been blunt, some would say even more than that. Some would say intimidating, abusive, tried to get people fired,” Mr. Lugar said.
He added: “Somebody that bends things out of shape may be needed to wrench around the U.N.”
Also yesterday, former CIA Deputy Director John McLaughlin confirmed that he told the Senate committee that Mr. Bolton tried to have a government intelligence analyst ousted in a dispute over Cuba.
“A subordinate came to me and said that Mr. Bolton was seeking transfer of one of our employees, and I objected to that, and said that we wouldn’t do it,” Mr. McLaughlin said on CNN’s “Late Edition.”
Mr. McLaughlin said “not in my personal experience” had he heard of such an effort by a policy-maker.