The third day of the confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has started off with a fight over unreleased documents and a meltdown from Sen. Cory Booker.
The controversy is over unreleased documents held by the Senate Judiciary Committee concerning Kavanaugh’s work at the White House under President George W. Bush, according to ABC News.
The documents are marked as “committee confidential,” which means members of the committee have access to them but the documents have not been cleared for public release.
In total, thousands of documents have been given to the committee under the label of committee confidential.
On Thursday, Booker threatened to release portions of the documents — specifically emails from Kavanaugh’s work under the Bush administration — to the public.
“I am, right now, before your process is finished, I am going to release the email about racial profiling and I understand that the penalty comes with potential ousting from the Senate,” Booker said.
Booker rationalized his actions on the basis that the withheld documents “have nothing to do with national security.”
Sen. Cory Booker at Brett Kavanaugh hearing says he is releasing an email "about racial profiling" to "expose that emails being withheld from the public have nothing to do with national security."
"I understand that the penalty comes with potential ousting from the Senate." pic.twitter.com/KGzhBIgibT
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) September 6, 2018
The Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, stopped Booker midway through Booker’s meltdown by asking: “How many times you going to tell us that?”
“I’m saying right now that I’m releasing committee confidential documents,” Booker concluded.
Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas criticized Booker for breaking the rules.
“Running for president is no excuse for violating the rules of the Senate,” Cornyn said, according to The Hill. “I’d encourage our colleagues to avoid the temptation to either violate the Senate rules or to treat the witness unfairly.”
He added, “This is no different from the senator deciding to release classified information. … That is irresponsible and outrageous.”
In response to Cornyn’s criticism, Booker said that he “knowingly violated the rules that were put forth,” The Washington Examiner reported.
“If Sen. Cornyn believes I violated Senate rules, I openly invite and accept the consequences of my team releasing that email right now,” he said.
Other Democrats, such as Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, also lamented that the documents labeled committee confidential but not in a way as bombastic as Booker.
“I have not made a big fight about this … but again, lest silence imply consent, I think that rule is as ineffectual as if the chair had unilaterally repealed the law of gravity,” Whitehouse said.
Booker’s willingness to release documents unavailable to the public does not bode well for his potential run for president.
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