News and events revolving around the ousting of CIA agent Valerie Plame.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Democrats press Rice on U.N. envoy nominee Bolton - Yahoo! News

Senate Democrats urged Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Wednesday to say whether U.N. ambassador nominee John Bolton was questioned in the investigation of the leak of the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame.

Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee are trying to determine if Bolton answered a routine questionnaire truthfully when he indicated he had not been interviewed or asked to supply information for a recent grand jury investigation.

California Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer (news, bio, voting record) said Bolton, a blunt-spoken conservative who has drawn fire for his abrasive style, should not be sent to the U.N. post until lawmakers have a definite answer on the veracity of his response.

Citing reports President Bush may bypass the Senate and appoint Bolton while Congress takes its upcoming summer recess, Boxer said, "I urge in the strongest possible way" the Senate be allowed to continue work on the nomination.

The Senate is expected to start its monthlong recess this weekend. Under a recess appointment, Bolton could serve only until January 2007, when the next Congress convenes.

Democrats were responding to a report MSNBC aired last Thursday that Bolton testified before the federal grand jury investigating who leaked the identity of Plame.

The leak came after Plame's husband, former diplomat Joseph Wilson, accused the White House of twisting intelligence to justify the Iraq war.

Boxer, in a conference call with reporters, said the committee's staff tried to get an answer on Bolton from the State Department on Monday.

She said Joseph Biden of Delaware, the committee's senior Democrat, "kicked it up a notch" and wrote Rice on Wednesday.

On Monday, a U.S. official speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters that Bolton had neither testified nor been asked to do so before the grand jury investigating the leak.

If Bolton was questioned in the Plame investigation after he signed the committee affidavit in March, Boxer said he or the administration should state that.

Bolton's nomination has been held up by accusations he tried to manipulate intelligence and intimidated intelligence analysts to support his hawkish views in his post as the top U.S. diplomat for arms control.

In procedural votes in May and June, Democrats denied Republicans the 60 votes needed from the 100-member chamber to close debate on Bolton and move to a confirmation vote, which would require a simple majority.


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