WASHINGTON - Republicans and Democrats drew new lines yesterday in the battle over John R. Bolton, issuing rival reports to stake out their positions for the next stage of the Senate debate over his nomination to become ambassador to the United Nations.
The reports reflected the deep divisions on the Foreign Relations Committee that prevented Bolton from winning its endorsement last week. The panel's Republicans, who took the unusual step of voting to send Bolton's nomination to the Senate without a recommendation, submitted only an eight-page brief that described him as "a highly qualified nominee" who had not sought to manipulate intelligence, despite the claims of his critics.
The Democrats, who were united in opposition to the nomination, used their 64-page report to present a case against Bolton as someone whose conduct toward subordinates and intelligence analysts should disqualify him for the post.
The Democrats also pointed to what they described as new evidence that Bolton, in testimony to the panel, had "vastly understated" his role in seeking to oust a top CIA analyst in a dispute over Cuba.
The Senate's Republican leaders have said they hope to hold a vote on the nomination next week, and the White House and the State Department have urged quick action.
But the timing remains highly uncertain, with the Senate seeking first to resolve the bitter dispute over judicial nominees, and Democrats calling on the State Department to hand over more documents that might shed light on Bolton's conduct in another dispute, over Syria, in 2003.
The Republican report acknowledged that Bolton had "a reputation for being an aggressive and blunt negotiator" but said that should not disqualify him "for a post that historically has included a number of blunt, plain-spoken individuals, including Jeane Kirkpatrick and our former colleague Pat Moynihan."
The Democrats portrayed Bolton as someone who bullied others and sought to use his power to shape intelligence reports to reflect his policy views. Their report called new attention to his role in the dispute with the CIA analyst, Fulton Armstrong, who was the national intelligence officer for Latin America.
Bolton testified last month that he had sought to have Armstrong transferred but said his effort had been limited to "one part of one conversation with one person one time," in July 2002 with Armstrong's supervisor, Stuart Cohen.
But the report cites previously undisclosed internal e-mail messages suggesting that Bolton's efforts began before the conversation with Cohen and did not end until four months later.
None of the new e-mail messages cited appears to have been sent by Bolton, but they include at least five messages sent by aides to Bolton and a State Department ally, Otto Reich, which the Democrats cited as evidence that the two offices "actively discussed their joint effort to seek the removal" of Armstrong from his post.
One message circulated by a Bolton aide on June 7, 2002, contains a still-classified draft letter from Bolton and Reich addressed to George J. Tenet, then director of central intelligence.
The draft "urged the immediate replacement" of Armstrong and indicated that Bolton and Reich would take several measures on their own, including excluding Armstrong from official meetings at the State Department and official travel in the Western Hemisphere, the Democratic report says.
It cites a reply by a State Department official who reported that he had discussed the matter with Bolton and said that Bolton "would prefer at this point to handle this in person with Tenet."