Cory Booker says he’s prepared to face consequences for releasing secret Brett Kavanaugh documents
Sen. Cory Booker released secret documents from Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh’s records Thursday, declaring himself a legislative “Spartacus” for his willingness to flout the rules in order to try to derail President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee.
Republicans said the New Jersey Democrat was grandstanding in preparation for a presidential bid in 2020, and said he could be expelled from the Senate for releasing secret information to the public, in violation of the chamber’s rules.
Mr. Booker said he was willing to martyr himself and accept that punishment if that’s what it took to protest the process that’s pushing Judge Kavanaugh toward confirmation.
“Bring the charges,” he demanded.
The documents he released touched on a variety of topics, including racial profiling, affirmative action, school busing, secular funding for religious programs, and the selection of specific judicial nominees for the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
None of them appeared particularly controversial, either for purposes of secrecy or as damaging the judge’s chances of confirmation to the Supreme Court.
But access to the documents has dominated this week’s hearings.
Judge Kavanaugh is the first nominee in recent years to have such extensive experience in the administration during the era of email. His six years in the Bush White House, first as a lawyer and then as staff secretary, produced millions of pages of documents.
Republicans requested the Bush library and National Archives produce the documents from his time as a White House lawyer, but said the staff secretary documents weren’t critical because he was merely a gatekeeper for other people’s ideas.
Democrats objected to that division. And they were further enraged after tens of thousands of pages of documents from his time as a lawyer were deemed “committee confidential” by a lawyer working for President George W. Bush.
“I am releasing it to expose that No. 1, emails that are being withheld from the public have nothing to do with national security,” Mr. Booker said.
He first broached the documents in public Wednesday, reading from still-secret emails in questioning Judge Kavanaugh. Mr. Booker said the emails dealt with “racial profiling.”
Judge Kavanaugh asked to see the emails before commenting on them, but Mr. Booker declined, only later acknowledging they were secret.
By Thursday morning, those emails had been cleared for release.
They showed the judge, during the early days of the Bush administration, pushing back against attempts to use racial profiling as the government was planning security enhancements in the months after the 2001 terrorist attacks.
Mr. Booker then released other documents on Twitter some of them not yet cleared.
“He’ll keep releasing them because Republicans are hiding Brett Kavanaugh’s record from the American people,” said Kristin Lynch, Mr. Booker’s spokesperson.
Republicans confirmed some of the later documents were still deemed confidential.
“He apparently redacted some material before releasing the confidential emails, essentially acknowledging their sensitive nature,” said Taylor Foy, spokesman for committee Sen. Chuck Grassley, Iowa Republican and Judiciary chairman.
Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican, pleaded with Mr. Booker to change his mind, saying releasing sensitive records would be “conduct unbecoming of a senator.” He said the rules violation could result in punishment up to expulsion.
“Running for president is no excuse for violating the rules of the Senate,” Mr. Cornyn said.
The committee’s Democrats, though, lined up behind Mr. Booker. Some vowed to release still-secret documents themselves, while others dared the GOP to punish Mr. Booker.
Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, of New York, also backed his party colleagues.
“I stand [with] Judiciary Committee Democrats who are well within their rights to release these very important documents that a former Kavanaugh deputy designed as ‘committee confidential,’” Mr. Schumer tweeted.