Delay (no, not that one)
I guess it'll be at least a week before John Bolton is confirmed as UN Ambassador. The math is hard to favor anything but confirmation at this point, but I would say that holding this up on the floor is a sensible idea. Why? Because the White House and the NSA has refused to release classified documents (specifically, documents related to Senate testimony on Syria, and NSA intercepts reportedly received by Bolton) to the Foreign Relations Committee. Not just Democrats on the committee, but Richard Lugar, the chairman. And Pat Roberts, chairman of the Intelligence Committee.
This is an excerpt of the Biden/Dodd letter sent to their colleagues in the Senate:
During the past four years, Mr. Bolton requested the identity of U.S. persons on ten occasions. There may be nothing improper in this; or there may be something highly improper. But we won't know unless we see the very same information shown to Mr. Bolton. So far that has not occurred. The Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence were shown the intercepts, but not the identities of the U.S. persons.
In refusing to provide the information about the Syria testimony, the State Department has asserted that it does not believe that the request is "specifically tied to the issues being deliberated by the Committee." In other words, the Executive Branch is deciding what it thinks is relevant to the Senate's review. That's unacceptable. In the case of the NSA intercepts, no one in the Executive Branch has even tried to explain why the chairman and ranking member of the Intelligence and Foreign Relations committees are not allowed to see information that was made available to Mr. Bolton and even to his staff. That, too, is unacceptable.
The refusal of the Executive Branch to provide information relevant to the nomination is a threat to the Senate's constitutional power to advise and consent. The only way to protect that power is to continue to demand that the information be provided to the Senate. The only means of forcing the Administration to cooperate is to prevent a final vote on the nomination today. We urge to you vote no on cloture.
This is about the balance of power in the government, executive versus legislative. Over the past 40 years or so the executive branch has co-opted more and more power from the legislative, so much so that the Founding Fathers probably wouldn't even recognize this government. This waned somewhat during the Nixon and Clinton investigations, but has returned with a vengeance under this new leadership.
I thought we learned during Watergate that no President is above the law. It is completely reasonable for the Senate to request and receive these documents. They may show that Bolton lied to the Foreign Relations Committee during his testimony. They may show that Bolton was surveilling people who didn't share his views. Or they might show nothing. The point is that the integrity of the legislative branch is at stake. This isn't partisan small potatoes; this is about what kind of government we'll have in this country; a rule by fiat from a small cabal in the White House, or three fully independent, equal branches. Consolidating power in the executive branch has been the MO of every President, Democratic or Republican, for many a year. It does the country no good.