WASHINGTON — The drama surrounding Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings continued on Thursday, as Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) announced that he would publicly release a confidential email about racial profiling.
“I understand that the penalty comes with potential ousting from the Senate,” Booker told the Senate Judiciary Committee, adding that, “I openly invite and I accept the consequences of my team releasing that email now.”
Democrats have protested that the Republican majority has refused to publicly release emails and other documents, while the White House has declined to release more than 100,000 pages from Kavanaugh’s tenure during the Bush administration.
Booker said that he wanted to take the action “to expose that the emails withheld from the public have nothing to do with national security, nothing to jeopardize the sanctity of those ideals that I hold dear.”
He added, “We are rushing through this before me and my colleagues and read and digest the information.”
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the chairman of the committee, seemed exasperated as Booker went on about violating Senate rules. “How many times are you going to tell us this?” he asked.
“Running for president is no excuse for violating the rules of the Senate,” Cornyn said, a reference to Booker’s 2020 ambitions.
Booker, though, went forward with the release.
“This is about the closest I’ll probably ever have in my life to an ‘I am Spartacus’ moment,” he said.
Booker later posted the documents on Twitter. The email was actually a chain between Kavanaugh and other Bush administration officials. It was marked “committee confidential.”
Update: Bill Burck, the attorney overseeing the release of the Bush administration records, said that the documents already had been cleared for release on Wednesday night “shortly after Senator Booker’s staff asked us to.
“We were surprised to learn about Senator Booker’s histrionics this morning because we had already told him he could use the documents publicly. In fact, we have said yes to every request made by Senate Democrats to make the documents public.”
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), a member of the Judiciary Committee, said on Twitter that “This exercise today is a reminder that these documents could have been made public if members had simply asked the committee It wouldn’t have allowed for a “Spartacus” moment but it would have followed with the protocol Chuck Grassley offered for weeks.”
Booker vowed to continue to release document, and posted new batches later on Thursday afternoon.