Sen. Cory Booker told Brett Kavanaugh during Thursday’s hearing he was willing to “knowingly violate” the rules of the Senate Judiciary Committee — and risk his position — in order to make the public aware of an email from the Supreme Court nominee on the issue of racial profiling.
Booker, D-N.J., again claimed the committee was “rushing” the hearings before everyone was able to thoroughly read and digest thousands of Kavanaugh-related documents provided to members, especially the batch of 42,000 released Monday night, the day before the hearings kicked off.
“I’m saying I’m knowingly violating the rules … I’m releasing committee confidential documents,” Booker told Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley during Thursday’s hearing.
John Cornyn, R-Texas, slammed Booker’s announcement and said a potential 2020 presidential run “is no excuse” for violating Senate rules or confidentiality of documents the committee is privy to.
“This is no different from the senator deciding to release classified information that is deemed ‘classified’ by the executive branch because you happen to disagree with the classification decision. That is irresponsible and outrageous and I hope the senator will reconsider his decision,” said Cornyn, adding the conduct was “unbecoming” of a senator.
It was later discovered, after Booker released 12 pages of emails, which included internal post-9/11 discussions surrounding issues of racial profiling, online Thursday morning that no rules were actually broken. The Republicans on the Judiciary Committee said they worked with the George W. Bush library and the Justice Department overnight to clear the emails, and restrictions were waived early Thursday.
Still, Booker claimed they were marked “committee confidential” in a tweet which included a link to the documents.
The tweet received nearly 10,000 retweets within an hour, and prompted responses from several U.S. senators.
Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., thanked Booker for releasing the documents and providing transparency to the American people.
“@SenBooker and Sen.@MazieHirono are doing the right thing by releasing Brett #Kavanaugh’s committee confidential documents. They shouldn’t be expelled from the Senate for their actions, they should be applauded. Americans deserve to know,” he tweeted.
Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., echoed Markey’s remarks and, again, followed in the footsteps of her Democratic colleagues by calling for the hearings to be delayed.
“The released #Kavanaugh docs are proof of how critical it is that we know this nominees record. Americans deserve transparency. @SenateGOP must stop hiding documents from the American people, release them & suspend this sham hearing until Americans know what this nominee believes,” she added.
Cornyn tweeted his previous exchange with Booker, where he blasts him for saying he would violate the rules of the Senate. Minutes later, he commented on Booker’s release of what he claimed were “confidential” Kavanaugh emails.
“Turns out it is already cleared for public viewing,” he wrote.
Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., also showed support for Booker.
“I stand with my colleague @CoryBooker. The American people have a right to see Kavanaugh’s full record,” tweeted Harris, who has repeatedly called on the committee to postpone Kavanaugh’s hearing.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., claimed the released documents reveal Kavanaugh is a “dangerous nominee” and he’s “dangerous for women.”
“We cannot, we must not, stay silent,” she said.
Despite protesters’ interruptions and criticism from Democrats, Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., said he was impressed with Kavanaugh’s calm demeanor.
“Judge Kavanaugh’s work and record speaks for itself. He is a highly qualified #SCOTUS nominee, and I’m impressed with his record and how he’s handled his @senjudiciary hearings so far,” Isakson tweeted.
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, reminded Booker — and all senators — officials should always follow protocol.
“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 @ChuckGrassley offered for weeks,” he said in a tweet, before it was revealed they were actually previously cleared.
Fox News’ Alex Pappas contributed to this report.