Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Republicans More Confident Bolton Will Be Confirmed

Yahoo! News
Republicans More Confident Bolton Will Be Confirmed

Tue Apr 26, 6:29 PM ET

By Vicki Allen

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republicans expressed growing confidence on Tuesday that the Senate will confirm John Bolton as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, despite Democrats' contention he is a bully unsuited to the post.

"The allegations are being to my mind very successfully debunked one by one," said Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a Tennessee Republican. "I'm optimistic at the direction it's taking."

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who said more time was needed to examine Bolton's record, said so far she has not seen information to prompt her to vote against him.

"At this point in time I have not learned of anything that would change my mind, but it's my obligation to look thoroughly and see if there's any basis to what has been raised," Murkowski of Alaska told reporters.

Her office said on Friday that Murkowski, who was traveling in Alaska and could not be reached for several days, supported more review of Bolton.

She joined three other Republican members who said Democrats had raised serious questions that Bolton tried to influence intelligence analyzes to suit his views and mistreated subordinates.

The eight Democrats on the committee plan to vote against Bolton. Opposition from just one of the 10 Republicans would result in a tie that could prevent the nomination from going forward for a vote in the full Senate.

After Republican Sen. George Voinovich of Ohio said he was not prepared to support Bolton at last week's committee meeting, Republicans were forced to postpone the vote until May 12. If it clears the committee, the nomination should have a good chance in the full Senate which Republicans control with 55 out of 100 seats.

Sens. Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island and Chuck Hagel of Nebraska also said they wanted more time for review and were weighing their decisions on Bolton.

White House deputy chief of staff Karl Rove, in an interview with USA Today and Gannett News Services, said he was "absolutely confident he'll be confirmed."

But with more than two weeks to go until the committee vote, Democrats said such confidence might be premature.

"This phase of the process is just beginning now. I don't know why anybody would have their minds made up before the facts are in," said Norm Kurz, spokesman for Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware, top Democrat on the committee.

Kurz said Democrats felt "that a pattern has been established" that Bolton sought to force analyzes of Cuba, Syria, South Korea and Iran to conform to his hardline views.

The committee was deposing Melody Townsel, who worked for the U.S. Agency for International Development in Kyrgyzstan and said Bolton angrily chased her through the halls of a Russian hotel, threw things at her, and shoved threatening letters under her door in a dispute over a foreign aid project.

Republicans released a letter from the head of the consulting firm that had hired Bolton as legal counsel on the project in Kyrgyzstan in 2000 and who disputed Townsel's account and accused her of a poor performance.