Tags: Lott | Pushing | Olson | Nomination | Senate | Floor

Lott Pushing Olson Nomination to Senate Floor

Thursday, 17 May 2001 12:00 AM

All of the Democrats voted against the nomination because of what they said was his lack of candor in describing his involvement in the Arkansas Project - an attempt to investigate and publicize alleged Clinton scandals in American Spectator magazine, funded by the billionaire right-winger, Richard Mellon-Scaife. Republicans said they will still confirm Olson to the post.

All of the Republicans voted for Olson. The only way to break the 9-9 tie would be for Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., to use his authority to send the nomination to the Senate floor anyway. But in the Senate, where each party controls 50 seats and Vice President Dick Cheney can break any ties, a single senator can delay the vote indefinitely.

Democrats said they were concerned that Olson had sought to minimize any possible involvement in the project when he testified before the committee, and objected because Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, decided this week not to allow time for an investigation into the matter and instead insisted on an immediate vote.

"I am not going to do anything to stop this from coming to a vote today," committee Ranking Member Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said. "I will have to vote 'no' because I do not have confidence in Mr. Olson's answers in his testimony to this panel."

Democrats cited "discrepancies" in Olson's testimony concerning the timing and extent of possible involvement with the project.

"Mr. Olson's has modified his answers over time, his recollection has changed, and he has conceded additional knowledge and involvement," Leahy said.

Democrats have said, for example, that Olson initially told the panel he was not "involved in the project in its origin or its management," but found out about it only as a member of the board of directors of the American Spectator Educational Foundation.

But in later correspondence, Democrats said Olson conceded that he was further involved with the foundation not only as a member of the board, but also "as a lawyer" for the foundation. Democrats also noted that Olson has changed the chronology of when he learned about the project.

Hatch said he didn't see a problem that required an investigation and called for an immediate vote. "I am convinced that these responses show no inconsistencies or evidence that Mr. Olson misled or was less than truthful to the committee in any way," Hatch said. Hatch called any investigation simply a "fishing expedition."

"We have seen too much personal destruction, and I plead with my colleagues not to allow another incredibly accomplished person to be turned into a one-dimensional caricature."

But Democrats said that while they didn't have any smoking gun, they felt that Olson had certainly not been forthcoming to the committee. "From what we can tell, Mr. Olson was trying to minimize his involvement in the Arkansas project," Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., said.

Now, Republicans must decide how and when they will move the nomination to the Senate floor, where a single recalcitrant Democrat could secretly delay a nomination vote indefinitely, using a procedure known as a 'hold.'

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Copyright 2001 by United Press International.

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All of the Democrats voted against the nomination because of what they said was his lack of candor in describing his involvement in the Arkansas Project - an attempt to investigate and publicize alleged Clinton scandals in American Spectator magazine, funded by the...
Lott,Pushing,Olson,Nomination,Senate,Floor
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2001-00-17
Thursday, 17 May 2001 12:00 AM
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