T Nation

Bolton Gets Recess Appointment


#1

Bush Appoints Bolton
As U.N. Ambassador

Associated Press
August 1, 2005 2:30 p.m.

WASHINGTON -- President Bush sidestepped the Senate and installed embattled nominee John Bolton as ambassador to the United Nations on Monday, ending a five-month impasse with Democrats who accused Mr. Bolton of abusing subordinates and twisting intelligence to fit his conservative ideology.

"This post is too important to leave vacant any longer, especially during a war and a vital debate about U.N. reform," Mr. Bush said. He said Mr. Bolton had his complete confidence.

The president 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 a newly elected Congress takes office in January 2007.

In advance of Mr. Bush's announcement, Democrats said Mr. 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." Mr. Bush, he said, should think again before using a recess appointment to place Mr. Bolton at the U.N. while the Senate is on its traditional August break.

But Republicans appearing on Sunday's news shows said Mr. Bolton is the man the White House wants and he's the right person to represent the U.S. at the world body.

Mr. Bush made his announcement Monday morning at a news conference. The appointment ends a five-month impasse between the administration and Senate Democrats. The battle grabbed headlines last spring amid accusations that Mr. Bolton abused subordinates and twisted intelligence to shape his conservative ideology, and as White House and GOP leadership efforts to ram the nomination through the Senate fell short.

In recent weeks, it faded into the background as the Senate prepared to begin a nomination battle over John Roberts, the federal appeals judge that Mr. Bush chose to replace the retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor at the Supreme Court.

At Mr. Bolton's April confirmation hearing, Democrats raised additional questions about his demeanor and attitude toward lower-level government officials. Those questions came to dominate Mr. Bolton's confirmation battle, growing into numerous allegations that he had abused underlings or tried to browbeat intelligence analysts whose views differed from his own.

Despite lengthy investigations, it was never clear that Mr. Bolton did anything improper. Witnesses told the committee that Mr. Bolton lost his temper, tried to engineer the ouster of at least two intelligence analysts and otherwise threw his weight around. But Democrats were never able to establish that his actions crossed the line to out-and-out harassment or improper intimidation.

Democrats and the White House deadlocked over Mr. Bolton's acknowledged request for names of U.S officials whose communications were secretly picked up by the National Security Agency. Democrats said the material might show that Mr. Bolton conducted a witch hunt for analysts or others who disagreed with him.

The top Republican and Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee received a limited briefing on the contents of the messages Mr. Bolton saw, but weren't told the names. Democrats said that was not good enough, but later offered a compromise. After much back and forth, with the White House claiming Democrats had moved the goal posts, no other senator saw any of the material.

Last week, the administration telegraphed Mr. Bush's intention to put Mr. Bolton on the job. White House press secretary Scott McClellan said the vacancy needed to be filled before the U.N. General Assembly's annual meeting in mid-September. Former Sen. John Danforth left the post in January.

In the face of objections from most Democrats and at least one Republican, Mr. Bush has steadfastly refused to withdraw Mr. Bolton's nomination -- even after the Foreign Relations Committee sent it to the full Senate without the customary recommendation to approve it.

Though the debate over Mr. Bolton had largely faded from the headlines, critics raised fresh concerns this week when it surfaced that Mr. Bolton had neglected to tell Congress that he had been interviewed in 2003 in a government investigation into faulty prewar intelligence on Iraq. In a letter released Friday, 35 Democratic senators and one independent, Sen. Jim Jeffords of Vermont, urged Mr. Bush not to give Mr. Bolton a recess appointment.

"There's just too much unanswered about Bolton, and I think the president would make a truly serious mistake if he makes a recess appointment," Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware, the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, said in an interview.


Framing the Issue: Bolton Appointment
Monday, Aug. 1, 2005

THE NEWS: President Bush skirted congressional opposition, appointing John Bolton to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations while the Senate was in recess.

THE BATTLE: Bolton's appointment ended a five-month impasse that has embroiled the Bush administration and Senate Democrats since his initial nomination to the job in early March. The White House and many GOP lawmakers have touted Bolton as a blunt-speaking diplomat and an ideal choice to reform the U.N. after a wave of scandals. Democrats, however, have accused him of exaggerating intelligence, abusing subordinates who disagreed with him and inappropriately seeking out names of some U.S. officials, suggesting he may have been conducting a witch hunt for those who crossed him. In May, the Foreign Relations Committee took the rare step of passing the nomination to the full Senate without its endorsement, but it wasn't brought to a full Senate vote before the recess.

WHAT'S NEXT: The Constitution lets a president install one of his appointees during a Senate break without the body's approval. Bolton's appointment will be valid until the next congressional term begins, in 2007. This is Bush's 106th recess appointment; President Clinton made 140 such appointments.


#2

I'm cool with Bolton if for no other reason then he pisses of legions of hippies everywhere.


#3

The 'I surrender' appointment to divert attention away from the Treasongate grand jury.

Good move!

Patrick Fitzgerald has pissed off corrupt Democrats in Chicago and corrupt Republicans nation wide so I am sure he will get replaced to put an end to the good work he is doing to put POS Democrats and Republicans behind bars.

It is too bad.

Rah, rah, rah Democrats/Republicans!

What a joke.


#4

Do you feel better after letting all that out? Your dot connecting logic really needs some work.

Bolton appointment overshadows GJ? Please tell me how Bush appointing Bolton at his first opportunity is even remotely related to a GJ investigation.


#5

If even the WaPo editorial board is taking this line, perhaps the Democrats will realize their obstructionism has gone too far...

Ambassador Bolton*

Tuesday, August 2, 2005; Page A12

PRESIDENT BUSH was within his rights yesterday to install John R. Bolton as ambassador to the United Nations by recess appointment. Mr. Bolton's nomination has been pending a long time, and a majority of the Senate probably would have voted to confirm him. Yet Senate Democrats denied him an up-or-down vote, holding out for the administration to release more material related to Bolton's past work. Under the Constitution, the president has the power to appoint officers during congressional recesses without seeking Senate confirmation and to have those officers serve through the end of the Congress -- which in this case means until January 2007. Using that power to circumvent the normal advice-and-consent process is politically provocative and should be quite rare. But having thwarted the usual process under which the Senate gets to vote on a president's nominee, it takes a bit of chutzpah for Democrats now to cry foul at Mr. Bush's decision to exercise his other option.

Mr. Bolton, as we have noted before, would not have been our choice for this job. As a State Department official for the past several years, he has been a contentious figure who has made many enemies, a bureaucratic power player who has played for keeps. At a time when the United Nations is facing a momentous period of reform and fallout from the oil-for-food scandal, it would have been wiser to name someone more suitable to the post. Moreover, Democrats are correct in noting that Mr. Bolton, by dint of the recess appointment, will go to the United Nations under less than optimal conditions. An ambassador who lacks the explicit support of Congress speaks less securely for the nation than one who enters the U.N. Security Council with the Senate's blessing. But, again, whose fault is that? Democrats had every chance to muster the votes to defeat the nomination; they couldn't do it. If Mr. Bolton is now heading to New York without the Senate's imprimatur but with a figurative asterisk beside his name, that's only because, having failed to defeat him, a minority refused to lose gracefully.

Mr. Bolton evidently has the president's confidence. Efforts to find factors that would disqualify him have proved less than overwhelming. He has, to be sure, crossed the line a few times in his behavior toward other officials. But most of the objections come down to his strong policy views and hard-charging style. Last week, Democrats pounced on an error in Mr. Bolton's Senate questionnaire, on which he said he had not been interviewed by administrative or criminal investigators in the past five years; he had, in fact, been interviewed at one point by the State Department's inspector general -- a fact the administration says slipped his mind. Like many aspects of Mr. Bolton, it's not flattering, but it doesn't justify denying the president a vote on his choice.

The use of the recess appointment shouldn't have been necessary. The confrontation having taken place, however, we can only hope that Mr. Bolton's tenure proves worthy of the stand Mr. Bush had to take to get him there.


#6

The MSM can not focus on too many things at once.

Watch as I am proven correct.

The timing could not be more perfect.

Genius!


#7

BB-

The Democrats are a bunch of ineffectually cry babies (not that Republicans are much better).

This is a perfect distraction.

If the Democrats were doing this all the Republicans on this board would agree that a recess UN ambassador is a perfect distraction.

Intellectual honesty is hard to come by unfortunately.

Cheers!


#8

marmadogg,

Except that the recess appointment would not only not have been necessary, but couldn't have been done, without the Democrats' obstructionism, which has been going on for how long now?

While the effect may be a distraction from whatever else is going on that you don't think has received enough attention, that seems merely coincidental given the lack of control the President had over the Democratic response (which has also been buttressed by the MSM in its carrying water on the rather ridiculous objections the Dems have been offering on Bolton) - particularly the threat of the filibuster.


#9

And before anyone says Bolton wasn't filibustered, he was -- the Dems threatened to filibuster if the nomination were brought to the floor for a vote, and the threat of a filibuster is essentially the same thing, as Senator Chafee admitted:

Lincoln Chafee -- never thought of as the sharpest tool in the shed -- had the most sagacious comment: "We filibustered the nomineee. We exercised our prerogative under the law. He [Bush] exercised his prerogative under the law."


#10

The WH would not give the Senate the documents they asked for.

This looks beyond suspicious.

Just give them the documents and move on.

Holbrooke waited over a year to get through the Senate.

I am sure I will get flamed for my factual observation but that would be par for the course around here.

Intellectual dishonest to spare from the Republicans.

GO TEAM!


#11

The Senators were doing the usual bit, asking for documents that they knew White House wasn't going to release, under the concept of Executive Privilege. The White House wasn't going to release stuff having to do with recent foreign-policy deliberations, especially internal memos giving opinions to the President. And with good reason, as people giving such opinions to the President need to give their true opinions and analysis, not just what write what they think will look good in a future confirmation hearing.

There was more than enough info available about Bolton for the Senate to make its decision -- it did not need every single piece of paper ever produced by Bolton.

Perhaps Senator Schumer should release every internal email and memo sent or prepared by his staff regarding Bolton's nomination, or the judicial nominations. After all, the public needs to be informed when making its choice on whom to elect for the very important position of Senator...

As you could probably guess, that would never happen. And the Senate doesn't need every single thing produced by high-ranking members of the administration (or those who have ever served in high-ranking positions within any administration) in order to consider them for further appointments. Items produced for internal consumption by the individual branches need to be privileged from forced production in most circumstances due to separation of powers concerns, as well as for more mundane functional reasons (the "good advice" rationale).


#12

I feel like I am reading a less wordy version of Al Shades.


#13

On what BostonBarrister etc. wrote:

glad to see the liberals on here have found someone to replace old Lumpster in terms of stupidity.

here is what Chuck Shumers Memos would read "we need to create a controversy surrounding bolton to fire up our base and use it so that Senator Schumer can shake down more money from interest groups on the fringe of society"


#14

How Long has it been? A week? Last heard the U.N was still in operation.

I thought Chuckie, et al. told us that he would destroy the UN.

Go figure. A Democrat was wrong.