Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) violated Senate rules and risked expulsion Thursday when he released committee confidential documents relating to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and racial profiling, claiming that the documents the GOP is keeping from the public “have nothing to do with national security.”
As the third day of the hearing kicked off Thursday, Booker said he would be releasing an email the GOP marked as confidential from Kavanaugh’s time as George W. Bush’s White House attorney that Booker said shows the nominee saying he is at least open to racial profiling by police. Booker claimed he would violate the committee chair’s rules and release the document, even if it means he’d be ejected from the Senate.
After Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) read the Senate rules on the release of confidential documents, Booker turned to him and said: “Bring it.”
Less than an hour later, Booker posted the four documents in question online.
The release came after a lengthy back-and-forth between Booker and Republican senators about Senate rules and confidential documents. The document in question is marked “committee confidential,” but is not officially classified, so Booker said he would not be violating Senate law if he were to release it to the public.
“The fact that there’s nothing in that document that’s personal information, there’s nothing national security-related, the fact that it was labeled as committee confidential exposes that this process, sir, is a bit of a sham,” Booker told committee chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA).
By marking the documents as “committee confidential,” Republicans are ensuring that the public cannot see them and Democrats cannot ask Kavanaugh about them during the hearing.
“I’m actually flabbergasted that so many of these things are not controversial whatsoever, but bring up pertinent issues that we should have the time to digest and to ask the candidate about,” Booker said.
He later said he understands he would be violating Grassley’s committee rules if he were to release the confidential document.
“I knowingly violated the rules that were put forth, and I’m told that the committee confidential rules have knowing consequences,” he said. “And so sir, I come from a long line, as all of us do as Americans, and I understand what that kind of civil disobedience is and I understand the consequences. So I am right now, before your process is finished, I am going to release the email about racial profiling. And I understand that the penalty comes with potential ousting from the Senate.”
Senate Republicans repeatedly interjected, calling Booker out for repeating his point and for threatening to break the rules.
“Running for president is no excuse for violating the rules of the Senate,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) told Booker, who is widely considered a likely 2020 presidential candidate.
Booker has made Kavanuagh’s views on race a central part of his questioning during the hearing. On Wednesday, he called out Kavanaugh’s belief that racial discrimination in America would be over by 2019 when the nominee said the country would have “one race.” He also asked Kavanaugh if he believes, like former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, that government cannot use race as a factor to remedy past discrimination. Kavanaugh would not answer the question.
This piece was updated to include news that Cory Booker released the documents in question.