Democratic Sen. Cory Booker, expected to run for president in 2020, said on Thursday that he will release a "confidential" email he claims shows Judge Brett Kavanaugh talking about racial profiling — and urged Republicans to try to expel him for violating Senate rules.
"Bring it," a defiant Booker said. "I’m going to release the email about racial profiling," the New Jersey Democrat said as the third day of Kavanaugh's Supreme Court confirmation hearings began in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Booker on Wednesday had asked Kavanaugh about a 2002 document in which, Booker claimed, the then-aide to President George W. Bush considered using racial profiling as a tool to battle terrorism after the terrorist attacks of September 11.
Kavanaugh, for his part, asked to review the email, but Booker tried to move on. Sen. Mike Lee, Utah Republican, though, said that the referenced email had been deemed "confidential" by the committee, which means it cannot be released or used to question a nominee.
In full grandstanding mode, Booker on Thursday said, “I come from a long line as all of us do as Americans of understanding what that kind of civil disobedience is and I understand the consequences,” he said. “I understand that the penalty comes with potential ousting from the Senate. If Senator [John] Cornyn believes that I have violated Senate rules, I openly invite and accept the consequences of my team releasing that email.”
Republicans ripped Booker for violating Senate rules. “Running for president is no excuse for violating the rules of the Senate or or of confidentiality of the documents we are privy to," said Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn, who later read a specific rule barring the use of confidential documents by senators.
"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."
Said Booker: "The emails being withheld from the public have nothing to do with national security."
Cornyn fired back, saying he was unhappy that Democrats were “unwilling or unable to conduct themselves in this hearing with regular order and accordance with the rules of the committee. ... I would encourage our colleagues to avoid the temptation to either violate the Senate rules, or to treat the witness unfairly by cross-examining him about a document and refusing to show it to him,” Cornyn said.
Committee Chairman Sen. Charles Grassley, who has remained patient throughout numerous interruptions by liberals in the gallery who oppose Kavanaugh's nomination, lost his composure. To Booker he said, "Can I ask you how long you're going to say the same thing three or four times?"
Grassley, Iowa Republican, said that in August he had directed senators to request documents so they could have time to review them. The chairman has designated more than 140,000 documents from Kavanaugh’s record as “committee confidential,” which means senators can see them but not use them.
Watch the exchange below: