Bush appoints John Bolton United States' ambassador to the United Nations

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Monday, August 1, 2005

File photo of John R. Bolton Source: U.S. government press release

In a televised press statement at 14:00 UTC (10:00 a.m. EDT) today, President of the United States George W. Bush announced that he was appointing John R. Bolton to the position of the United States' ambassador to the United Nations.

Stating that Mr. Bolton had received support from "a majority of Senators", but had been "unfairly denied the up-or-down vote that he deserved" by the "delaying tactics of a few", Mr. Bush announced that the post had stood vacant for long enough during what he termed "a war", and that he was "exercising his constitutional authority" to make the appointment.

"This post is too important to leave vacant any longer, especially during a war and a vital debate about U.N. reform," Bush said during an announcement in the Roosevelt Room of the White House. Bolton appeared with him and spoke briefly. "I am profoundly grateful and deeply humbled," Bolton said. "It will be a distinct privilege to be an advocate for America's values and interests at the U.N."

The President can make an appointment without the approval of the Senate while the Congress is in recess, but the term of such a "recess appointment" expires at the end of the Congressional session. The next session begins January 3, 2007.

Objections

The move comes despite a letter to the President last week saying that Mr. Bolton was "not truthful" while answering questions before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in March, and should not be given a recess appointment. The New York Times reports the letter was signed by 36 senators -- 35 Democrats and one Independent.

Some senators, including Republicans, have raised questions regarding Mr. Bolton's history of criticizing the United Nations, his treatment of subordinates, and over charges that he has tried to influence intelligence assessments to conform to his views, the Times reports.

During confirmation hearings, Republican Senator George Voinovich described Bolton as "the poster child of what someone in the diplomatic corps should not be." Because of Voinovich's opposition, Bolton's nomination was sent to the floor of the Senate without a recommendation.

Reactions

"At a time when we need to reassert our diplomatic power in the world, President Bush has decided to send a seriously flawed and weakened candidate to the United Nations," said Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid of Nevada. "The reason Bolton is being recess appointed is because the president chose to stonewall the Senate. Mr. Bolton could have had his up or down vote had President Bush given senators the information they needed. Instead, Bolton arrives at the United Nations with a cloud hanging over his head."

"The president has done a real disservice to our nation by appointing an individual who lacks the credibility to further U.S. interests at the United Nations. I will be monitoring his performance closely to ensure that he does not abuse his authority as he has in the past," said Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn.

"We will work with him as the ambassador and representative of the president and the government," U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said. "We look forward to working with him, as I do with the other 190 ambassadors".

Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas praised the president for using his authority "to end the obstruction against John Bolton." Cornyn said, "This is an important position and it's critical that it not remain vacant any longer. Bolton is exceptionally well qualified to fill this role at this time."

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