Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing again started on a tumultuous note Thursday, as Democratic Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey revealed he leaked confidential documents to The New York Times relating to the judge’s work in the George W. Bush White House.
The documents show Kavanaugh advising other White House officials on abortion and affirmative action. In one email, he contested the notion that most legal scholars believe Roe v. Wade is settled law.
“I’m saying I’m knowingly violating the rules,” Booker said. “I’m saying right now that I’m releasing committee confidential documents.”
“I violated it because I sincerely believe the public deserves to know this nominee’s record,” he said later in the hearing.
GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley’s office said early Thursday afternoon that the documents in question were made public Thursday morning, and the panel authorized their release on Wednesday night. As such, it does not appear that Booker actually violated Senate rules.
WATCH the exchange:
Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn reacted incredulously, and accused Booker of violating institutional rules to win credibility with voters ahead of the 2020 presidential election. Booker is widely considered a contender for the Democratic presidential nomination.
“Running for president is not an excuse for violating the rules of the Senate or of confidentiality of the documents that we are privy to,” Cornyn said.
In turn, Booker dared Cornyn to start proceedings against him.
“I hope that they will bring charges against us and I am ready to except with full responsibility what I have done,” Booker said.
“This is about the closest moment I will ever have in my life to an ‘I am Spartacus’ moment,” Booker added, before accusing other senators of “bluster.”
Speaking after the hearing, however, Booker expressed doubt that punitive action would actually follow his actions.
“I think he was just like a lot of bullies are, a lot of talk and no action,” Booker said of Cornyn to Fox News.
Senate rule 29.5 provides that any senator who breaches confidentiality may be expelled from the chamber.
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