July 28, 2005

State Dept. says Bolton truthful to Senate panel

By Vicki Allen

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The State Department on Thursday
said U.N. ambassador nominee John Bolton told Congress the
truth when he said he did not testify in the investigation of
the leak of the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Bolton's
answer in March to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was
"truthful then and it remains the case now."

A spokesman for Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware, the
committee's top Democrat, said McCormack's statements did not
resolve all of the questions. He said Biden was waiting for a
written response from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Bolton's nomination has snagged on accusations he tried to
manipulate intelligence and intimidated intelligence analysts
to support his hawkish views in his position as the top U.S.
diplomat for arms control.

Questioned by reporters, McCormack recited the committee's
questionnaire that asks whether a nominee "has been interviewed
or asked to supply any information in connection with any
administrative (including an inspector general), congressional
or grand jury investigation, within the past five years, except
routine congressional testimony."

"Mr. Bolton, in his response on the written paperwork, was
to say "No." And that answer is truthful then and it remains
the case now," McCormack said.

Democrats were responding to a report MSNBC aired last week
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.

Lacking votes in the Senate to confirm Bolton, the White
House has left open the possibility that it might appoint him
while Congress takes its monthlong summer recess which starts
this weekend. A recess appointment would be temporary, expiring
in January 2007 when the new Congress convenes.

Democrats contend that any questions over whether Bolton
misled the Senate committee should be resolved before such an

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a Tennessee Republican,
confirmed that the Senate would not act on Bolton's nomination
in the remaining hours before the recess, "and therefore we
will address it after the recess."

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

(Additional reporting by Saul Hudson and Susan Cornwell)