Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) was on CNN’s State of the Union this morning and the subject of John Bolton’s appointment as National Security Advisor came up. The senator was asked about recent questions he’d raised as to whether or not Bolton would be able to qualify for the security clearance required for the post. After a brief attempt at dredging up his 2005 confirmation hearings as UN Ambassador (which we’ll circle back to in a moment), Kaine presented his reasons for raising the question. All he had to offer was a reference to “a speech in Russia in 2013” at the request of “a Russian oligarch.” That’s pretty much it. Watch this short clip from CNN which has the exchange with the host.
It doesn’t require a lot of digging to see where this came from. While it popped up at a few liberal sites almost simultaneously, the theme appears to have arisen at Daily KOS, which probably won’t come as much of a surprise. The theories offered there don’t present much more “evidence” than what Kaine was able to muster.
Does that make much sense? You are certainly free to question Bolton’s temperament if you’re not of a hawkish bent, but is anyone seriously suggesting that John Bolton has been conspiring (I’m sorry… colluding) with the Russians? If anything, a thorough search of Bolton’s files would be more likely to turn up a plan for launching a war against them than helping them out.
EDIT: (Jazz) Ambassador Bolton contacted us with the following correction about the speech:
“The Ambassador was asked by former NRA president Dave Keene to record a video for presentation to the upper house of the Russian parliament, the Federation Council. The Ambassador has never heard of The Right to Bear Arms until recent news coverage of the group.”
(Original article continues)
Wanting to promote gun rights for private citizens is a bit of a far cry from colluding with the Kremlin. In reality, Bolton has a documented history of being a hawk when it comes to Russia, as recently documented at the Weekly Standard. He’s referred to Putin as a serial liar and someone not to be trusted. Hardly a picture of Russian collusion.
So what about dredging up those confirmation hearings from 2005? As mentioned above, when asked by CNN about his security clearance comments, Kaine attempted to instead talk about how he couldn’t be confirmed as Ambassador to the UN back then, “with a Republican President and a Republican-controlled Senate.” It’s true that Bolton was never confirmed by the Senate and had to be sent to work via a recess appointment. But Kaine is being quite disingenuous there. He wasn’t confirmed because the Democrats initially filibustered his nomination after stonewalling it in committee. Then, a cloture vote failed when only three Democrats agreed to vote for the motion and a couple of Republicans bailed out. He still wound up getting 54 votes for cloture, though.
Of course, that’s all academic because Bolton doesn’t require Senate confirmation for this position to begin with. The only applicable question is the one of his security clearance, without which it would be virtually impossible to do his job. But unless someone can bring forward some entirely new information on this score or the intelligence community finds something on him that we have no clue about, it really shouldn’t be an issue. The guy has held multiple, sensitive positions, including as Under Secretary of State. He’s been through this mill before. If his security clearance check gets bogged down at this point we’ll really need to ask some questions about who is handling those checks these days and if they’re truly remaining outside of political influence.