The third day of Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing for the Supreme Court kicked off with another partisan fight over documents the committee has not publicly released concerning his work at the White House under President George W. Bush.
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One Democrat, Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, threatened to release one of the documents on his own, prompting Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas to accuse Booker of “conduct unbecoming of a senator.”
“Running for president is no excuse for violating the rules of the Senate or of confidentiality of the documents that we are privy to,” Cornyn said of Booker, who is considered a possible Democratic contender for president in 2020.
The fight began when Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said Democrats who have protested that some documents were not available had an opportunity to make their complaints beforehand but waited to do it publicly to delay the hearing.
The documents in question are not classified but are marked “committee confidential,” meaning members of the committee have access to them but they aren’t released to the public.
Booker pushed back, blaming the process of having a private lawyer and former colleague of Kavanaugh, Bill Burck, vet the documents as the problem. Booker said he would release an email about racial profiling even, he said, if he could be kicked out of the Senate for violating rules.
“I come from a long line, as all of us do, of Americans that understand what that kind of civil disobedience is and I understand the consequences,” Booker said. “So I am, right now, before your process is finished, I am going to release the e-mail about racial profiling and I understand that the penalty comes with potential ousting from the Senate. If Senator Cornyn believes I violate Senate rules, I openly invite and accept the consequences of my team releasing that e-mail right now.”
Sen. Cory Booker at Kavanaugh hearing says he is releasing email “about racial profiling” to “expose” that documents “being withheld from the public have nothing to do with national security.”
“I understand that the penalty comes with potential ousting from the Senate.” pic.twitter.com/dIL8TsNsEP
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Not long after, Booker said, “I violated this rule knowingly” and “bring the charges.”
Democrats Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Dick Durbin renewed their calls for the documents to be released as well.
On Wednesday, Kavanaugh answered questions about his views on executive power, abortion, and gun laws, but mostly declined to comment on issues that could be part of a future case before the Supreme Court.