GOP eyes ethics probe into Cory Booker’s release of confidential documents

GOP leaders said Friday the Senate may still pursue ethics charges against Sen. Cory Booker after the Democrat eventually followed through on his threat to release confidential documents from Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh’s records.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called Mr. Booker’s maneuver “unusual” and said an investigation could be appropriate. Sen. John Cornyn, Mr. McConnell’s top lieutenant, echoed that.

“This is likely a matter for the Senate ethics committee,” Mr. Cornyn said on Twitter.

During Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings this week Mr. Booker, a New Jersey Democrat eyeing a 2020 presidential bid, read aloud from confidential documents meant only for senators’ eyes. The documents were emails from Judge Kavanaugh’s time serving in the Bush White House, and had been cleared for the Judiciary Committee to view during its considering of the Supreme Court nomination, but haven’t been cleared for the public yet.

The committee rushed to clear those documents so they would be available for Mr. Booker to use in his questioning of Judge Kavanaugh — but the senator then released other documents that were still confidential.

“When you break the Senate rules, it’s something the ethics committee could take a look at,” Mr. McConnell told conservative host Hugh Hewitt. “And that would be up to them to decide. But it’s routinely looked at by the ethics committee.”

For his part, Mr. Cornyn warned Mr. Booker personally during the committee meeting Thursday that releasing confidential documents could result in punishment, including expulsion.

“This is no different from a senator deciding to release classified information that is deemed classified by the executive branch because you happen to disagree with the classification division. That is irresponsible and outrageous,” the Texas Republican said.

Mr. Booker acknowledged he was knowingly violating the rules, declared himself “Spartacus,” and said Thursday he would welcome the punishment. Other Democrats rallied around him in support.

“I stand by my actions,” Mr. Booker said Friday on Twitter, saying he’d released 28 confidential documents Thursday and would post more Friday.

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