The Senate Judiciary Committee erupted in angry confrontations on the final day of confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, and Senator Cory Booker said he would face possible expulsion by disclosing a document that is considered confidential.
"This is the closest I'll probably get to a" I'm a Spartacus moment, "Booker said, referring to the Hollywood classic about a slave revolt in ancient Rome.
The New Jersey Democrat identified a Kavanaugh document related to racial discrimination among the tens of thousands of people considered "confidential from the committee", which means that senators can see them but have not made themselves known to the public. public before the hearing.
"I understand that the sanction comes with the possible expulsion of the Senate," Booker told his colleagues.
"This is the closest I'll likely have of a" I'm a Spartacus moment, "said New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, who said that, in his own version, he will publish a document of" confidential committee ". about the racial profile
Republican Sen. John Cornyn became entangled with Booker, saying he "knowingly violated the rules."
"I understand the consequences," Booker replied.
"I knowingly violated the rules that were established, I was told that the committee's confidential rules have no consequences, so, sir, I come from a long list like all of us, as Americans, to understand what that type of civil disobedience is and understand the I'm here before your process is over, I'm going to launch the email about racial profiling, "said Booker, a possible presidential candidate.
"I understand that the fine comes with the potential expulsion of the Senate, and if Senator Cornyn believes that I violated the Senate's rules, I openly invite and accept the consequences of my team launching that email at this time."
Senate Majority Leader John Cornyn read the permanent rules of the Senate and called Booker's actions "improper."
Booker continued: I'm launching it to expose that, number one, emails are being held by the public, they have nothing to do with national security. Nothing that endangers the sanctity of those ideals that I appreciate. Instead, what I am disclosing in this document now, sir, is that we have a process here for a person, the highest office in the country, for a lifetime appointment, we are hurrying to this and to my colleagues. He can even read and digest the information.
The chairman of the panel, Senator Charles Grassley, intervened and implied that Booker was grandiloquent. "Can I ask you how long are you going to say the same thing three or four times?"
Cornyn gave a chance to Booker's motives. "Running for president is not an excuse to violate the rules of the Senate," he said at one point.
Cornyn, a Texas Republican, called Booker's move "scandalous."
Brett Kavanaugh listens to the senators on day three of his confirmation hearing on the Senate Judiciary Committee to be an associate judge of the Supreme Court. Democrats complained that tens of thousands of Bush-era documents remain confidential
"This is the closest time I'll probably have for a moment of" I'm Spartacus, "said New Jersey Senator Cory Booker.
"This is not different from the senator deciding to disclose classified information that is considered classified by the executive branch because you disagree with the classification decision, which is irresponsible and outrageous, and I hope the senator reconsiders his decision, because no senator it deserves to sit on this committee or serve in the Senate, in my opinion, if they decide to be a law unto themselves and willfully flout the rules of the Senate and the determination of confidentiality and classification, "said Cornyn, the second leader of the Republican Senate.
"That's irresponsible and driving an improper senator."
At another point, Booker mocked Cornyn: "If what he said was sincere, there are actually Senate rules that govern the behavior of senators, if he feels that I, and now my fellow colleagues who are with me, have violated those rules, if he is not a tempest in a teapot, but believe that, then present the charges. "
& # 39; Go through the Senate process to face someone you said is not appropriate to be a senator. Let's review that process.
"Because I think that the public should understand that at a time when someone has a lifelong appointment, the public has the right to know this matter," he said.
The Senate can only expel a senator with the vote of two thirds of its members, an obstacle that the Republicans could not hope to gather in the 51-49 corps they control.
"All of us are ready to face that rule about the false designation of confidential committee," joined Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut
"If someone is going to get those charges, I hope they are met," Booker said, reviewing a list of fellow Democrats on the committee. "I hope they accuse us," he said. "And I am willing to accept full responsibility for what I have done."
Cornyn read the Senate's rules in response: Any senator, officer or employee of the Senate who divulges secret or confidential matters or procedures of the Senate, including the affairs and procedures of the committees, subcommittees and offices of the Senate, will be responsible if a senator suffers expulsion from the body and if an official or employee is dismissed from the Senate service and is punished or despised & # 39;
Get him. Bring it. Bring him, "Booker replied. & # 39; Bring the charges. Bring him.
"All of us are ready to face that rule over the false designation of confidential committee," he joined Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut.
"Even the threat posed by one of my colleagues is unfortunate, and that's a nice way to put it," he said.
Booker has questioned Kavanaugh on Wednesday afternoon about his time as a lawyer for President George W. Bush. Republicans complained that Booker had referenced a "confidential committee email."