The Right Coast

April 20, 2005
A Bolton non-story
By Tom Smith

Just to warn you, this is a boring non-story. I became an associate at Covington & Burling, shortly after John Bolton, who had been a young partner there, left to join the State Department (I think it was State). As associates do, we were always gossiping about partners (including former partners now in government), their love affairs, their cruelties, their wealth . . . Bolton's name came up several times, but only to the effect that he was smart and a conservative. There were lots of bully stories going around, but not about him. C&B was not a comfortable place to be a conservative. There were plenty of people there who would have held it against Bolton that he was one. And yet, I never heard a peep about his being a bully, let alone a serial bully. It doesn't mean he wasn't obviously, it being difficult to prove a negative. But given the appetite for anything disparaging about our masters, it would be odd if he were, and I never heard about it. In fairness I should also say I didn't hear any legends either about what a genius or a saint he was, as one did about some other former C&B lawyers, such as now federal appeals judge Michael Boudin (genius).