Monday, May 9, 2005

Republicans are optimistic that John R. Bolton, President Bush’s nominee to be ambassador to the United Nations, has weathered Democrats’ charges and will be approved in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday.

Sen. Norm Coleman, Minnesota Republican and a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, said the past week — both in terms of what an investigation had not produced and what had happened in world events — boosted Mr. Bolton’s prospects.

“One of the things that helped John Bolton’s nomination was Zimbabwe being put on the human-rights commission last week. That was a very public indication of the need for U.N. reform, and I think my colleagues understand that,” Mr. Coleman said. “And there is nothing that has come up in all the interviews that has moved me, and at this point any of my other colleagues, to move away from supporting the Bolton nomination.”

Committee Chairman Richard G. Lugar, Indiana Republican, said Sunday he suspected Mr. Bolton would be approved by the committee on a 10-8 party-line vote.

Democrats would then have to decide whether to initiate a filibuster — a decision senators and leadership aides say hasn’t been reached.

Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, Connecticut Democrat, said he still hopes a Republican or two will help sink the nomination in committee.

Mr. Bolton’s nomination was delayed two weeks ago in the Foreign Relations Committee when some Republicans said they wanted more time to look into charges leveled by Democrats that he bullied co-workers or subordinates to try to influence intelligence claims.

One of those Republicans, Sen. Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, said yesterday he is still inclined to vote for Mr. Bolton, though he said that could still change, based on new information.

?He’s going to work for Condoleezza Rice. The important thing for me is what the agenda is, what’s going to be done there, rather than who’s going to do it,? he said. ?She’s said over and over again we’re going to rebuild our international alliances, and she’s also said this man is going to work for me, he’s not going to be going out freelancing. So if you put those two together, this can go forward.?

Democrats have requested thousands of pages of documents and the committee has conducted 31 interviews, according to the State Department, which said it has responded to more than 160 written questions as well.

Miss Rice said what’s been exposed about Mr. Bolton so far does not disqualify him.

“I see nothing that suggests that John was anything but an interested consumer of intelligence and asked difficult questions. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with” that, she told CNN from Russia.

Democrats have said there are still documents that haven’t been produced, but State Department spokesman Tom Casey yesterday said he thinks the department has given everything necessary.

“I don’t think we’re stiffing anybody here. What we’re doing is providing all the information that’s required, that’s relevant to the investigation that’s going on, in order for the committee to be able to reach reasonable conclusions,” he said.

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