iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The third day of Judge Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation hearing for the Supreme Court kicked off with another partisan fight over documents the committee has not publicly released concerning his work at the White House under President George W. Bush.
One Democrat, Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, threatened to release one of the documents on his own, prompting Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas to accuse Booker of "conduct unbecoming of a senator."
"Running for president is no excuse for violating the rules of the Senate or of confidentiality of the documents that we are privy to," Cornyn said of Booker, who is considered a possible Democratic contender for president in 2020.
The fight began when Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said Democrats — who have protested that some documents were not available — had an opportunity to make their complaints beforehand, but waited to do it publicly to delay the hearing.
The documents in question are not classified but are marked "committee confidential," meaning members of the committee have access to them, but they aren't released to the public.
Booker pushed back, blaming the process of having a private lawyer and former colleague of Kavanaugh, Bill Burck, vet the documents as the problem. Booker said he would release an email about racial profiling even, he said, if he could be kicked out of the Senate for violating rules.
"I come from a long line, as all of us do, of Americans that understand what that kind of civil disobedience is — and I understand the consequences," Booker said. "So 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. If Senator Cornyn believes I violate Senate rules, I openly invite and accept the consequences of my team releasing that email right now."
Not long after, Booker said, "I violated this rule knowingly" and "bring the charges."
Booker's fellow Democrats expressed support.
"I just want to say to my colleagues — particularly my colleague from New Jersey — I completely agree with you. I concur with what you are doing. And let's jump into this pit together. I hope my other colleagues will join me. So if there is going to be some retribution against the senator from New Jersey, count me in," Sen. Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, said.
Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein then read from an unreleased Kavanaugh email discussing the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion nationwide.
In the email, first reported by The New York Times, Kavanaugh proposed an edit to an op-ed about Roe v. Wade where he commented that "I am not sure that all legal scholars refer to Roe as the settled law of the land at the Supreme Court level since Court can always overrule its precedent."
Kavanaugh has referred to Roe as "settled law" and said that other cases followed the precedent, but declined to comment on how he could rule in any future cases.
When asked about the email Thursday, Kavanaugh said he recommended the edit to the op-ed because he didn't think the draft accurately reflect the view of all legal scholars. He repeated his previous comments that cases since Roe v. Wade have upheld the decision and established "precedent upon precedent."
On Wednesday, Kavanaugh answered questions about his views on executive power, abortion and gun laws, but mostly declined to comment on issues that could be part of a future case before the Supreme Court.
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