The top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee said Tuesday that the FBI investigation into Defense Secretary-designate John Tower provided no basis for disqualification, and he called on the panel to immediately confirm the former senator.
Sen. John Warner, R-Va., who, together with Committee Chairman Sam Nunn, D-Ga., agreed to suspend Tower's confirmation process last week because of new allegations, reportedly about Tower's personal life, told reporters Tuesday that he had seen an FBI report into the charges and agreed with the White House that Tower should now be confirmed."I'm not counting votes at this time," Warner said. "It is my expectation that the committee will find, as I have found, that the evidence does not provide the basis for any disqualification."
Warner said he would discuss the matter with Nunn and, after Nunn received a briefing on the report, that a vote on Tower could take place as early as Tuesday afternoon.
Warner refused to predict whether Nunn would move to a quick vote, but stressed that the Democrat had been "most fair" in considering Tower and added, "in every instance we have made joint decisions" concerning the nomination.
At the White House, Warner's comments were echoed by presidential spokesman Marlin Fitzwater, who told reporters, "It's our understanding the FBI report was near completion, that they had not found any problems as far as we are concerned, and we expect a vote relatively soon."
President Bush said at a White House news conference Monday that the 63-year-old Tower should not have to withdraw his name based on unsubstantiated rumors about his personal life.
"I think people would not want a person to step aside, given rumor, particularly if the rumor is baseless," the president said. "And the problem is the process is taking a little longer than I would like, and yet, I think the Senate has got to do what they're doing - looking at these allegations very carefully."
Bush added, however, that if any rumors or innuendoes turned out to be "a substantive allegation of this nature, of course it would concern me."