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Bush: 'I'm not happy' about Bolton's resignation

Story Highlights

• NEW: Bush: "I'm not happy" about John Bolton's resignation
• U.N. ambassador's temporary appointment will end within weeks
• Bolton failed to win Senate confirmation, Bush blasts opposing senators
• Ambassador criticized for brusk style
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- An unhappy President Bush said Monday he regretfully accepted John Bolton's decision to leave his temporary job as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

Senate opposition, led mostly by Democrats, doomed Bolton's confirmation to serve permanently.

"I'm not happy about it," Bush said during a farewell appearance at the White House attended by Bolton and his wife, Gretchen.

"I think he deserved to be confirmed. The reason I think he deserved to be confirmed is that I think he did a fabulous job for the country." (Watch Bush react to Bolton's resignation Video)

Turning to Bolton, Bush said, "We're going to miss you in this administration. You've been a stalwart defender of freedom and peace.

"You've been strong in your advocacy for human rights and human dignity. You've done everything that can be expected for an ambassador."

A controversial history

In March 2005, Bush nominated the outspoken Bolton, then an assistant secretary of state, to be U.N. ambassador. (Watch U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan talk about Bolton Video)

But most Senate Democrats and a handful of Republicans were against giving Bolton the job.

They complained he gave the Senate false information when he failed to note on a confirmation questionnaire that a State Department inspector had formally questioned him.

The investigation, part of a joint inquiry by the State Department and CIA, centered around intelligence about whether Iraq attempted to obtain uranium from Niger.

The State Department acknowledged the error in Bolton's statement.

Also, Sen. George Voinovich, an Ohio Republican, took to the floor and read a list of complaints from Bolton's subordinates. They said Bolton had a reputation of bullying his colleagues, taking facts out of context and exaggerating intelligence.

Carl Ford, the former chief of the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research, called Bolton "a quintessential kiss-up, kick-down sort of guy" and a "serial abuser" of subordinates.

Because GOP leaders could not push through the nomination, when Congress was in recess in August 2005, Bush used his constitutional power to make recess appointments and put Bolton in the post temporarily, without Senate approval.

A recess appointment only lasts until the end of the term of Congress in which it is made, so Bolton's appointment was to end in January unless the Senate acted to confirm him.

Bush continued to fight for Bolton's nomination, resubmitting it to the Senate just two days after Democrats won control in last month's midterm elections.

The president had hoped that GOP leaders might be able to get it through before the Senate changed hands.

However, Senate Democrats were unmoved.

The incoming chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Democratic Senator Joe Biden of Delaware, said Bolton's confirmation was "going nowhere."

Friday, Bolton sent a letter to Bush saying that after "careful consideration, I have concluded that my service in your administration should end when the current recess appointment expires."


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U.S. ambassador to the U.N., John Bolton, drew criticism from both Democrats and Republicans.

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