WASHINGTON — A key Republican member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee suggested Sunday that he might oppose John R. Bolton as U.N. ambassador if more allegations come out about the nominee's character and behavior -- a situation that could result in a tie vote in the committee and endanger President Bush's choice to head the U.S. delegation to the international body.
As the committee vote scheduled for Tuesday nears, Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) said he remained concerned about a series of accusations questioning Bolton's temperament and wondered whether he was the right man for the job.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Tuesday April 19, 2005 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 59 words Type of Material: Correction
Bolton nomination -- An article in Monday's Section A about the nomination of John R. Bolton as U.N. ambassador said a tie vote in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee would send the nomination to the full Senate without a panel recommendation. If there is a tie, the committee could send the nomination, but that would require a separate vote.
"We need a uniter," Hagel said on CNN's "Late Edition." "We need a builder. We need someone who will reach out to our friends and our allies at the United Nations."
And the Nebraska senator hedged when asked whether he would vote for Bolton. "At this point, I will," he said. "But I have been troubled with more and more allegations, revelations, coming about his style, his method of operation."
Hagel is second in seniority among the 10 Republicans on the committee. With eight Democrats on the panel, a vote by Hagel against Bolton could tip the result into a tie -- an event that would send the matter to the full Senate without a recommendation.
Another committee Republican, Sen. Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, remains equally troubled, and his spokesman, Stephen Hourahan, said the senator would decide today how he would proceed after reviewing new allegations against Bolton.
On Saturday the staff of Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware, the ranking Democrat on the committee, released an e-mail from a Texas woman saying that she had been threatened by Bolton in 1994 when he became angry in a dispute over a private contract with the U.S. Agency for International Development in Kyrgyzstan.
Melody Townsel of Dallas said at the time of the encounter she was working for a company supervising an AID subcontractor.
Townsel complained to the committee that Bolton, who was representing the subcontractor, had shouted at her, threw papers at her, chased her down a hotel hallway in Moscow and pounded on her room door. She labeled his behavior "pathological." In previous statements, other former co-workers of Bolton told committee members that he had a hot temper.
But on Sunday, Ed Hullander, who worked with Townsel on the AID contract and now is an AID senior economist, said it was Townsel, and not Bolton, who acted irrationally. "She would get belligerent at times," Hullander said.
He said that although he was not at the hotel at that time, he would have heard about any misbehavior. "It would not have gone unnoticed," Hullander said. "The security there was so tight, they would not have allowed anything like that in the hotel hallways."
He added, "Anyone who knows John, running through the hall doesn't make sense at all. It's too outrageous even to think about."
Nevertheless, Hagel said the increasing allegations about Bolton, including assertions that he tried to get intelligence analysts fired, remained bothersome. He called it a "disturbing pattern of things that had come out about Bolton's management style" and likened it to intimidation.
"We cannot have that at the United Nations," Hagel said. "That should not be anywhere in our government."
Biden, speaking on "Fox News Sunday," said he had no plans to ask for a delay in the vote or for more hearings. "But we're waiting for Bolton's answers to find out whether or not he's giving us honest responses.... I think his credibility's in question," he said.
Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), the Foreign Relations Committee chairman, said on the same program that he planned for the vote to go forward because he did not expect the judgments of committee members to change.
Lugar conceded that Bolton had in the past "disagreed sharply with analysts," describing the committee testimony last week as "not a pleasant set of hearings."