Sen. Cory Booker accused a reporter of violating the U.S. Constitution after he asked the New Jersey Democrat a question in the halls of Congress on Thursday.
During the Senate Judiciary Committee's hearing on the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh, Booker threatened to release confidential documents relating to Kavanaugh's service as a lawyer in the George W. Bush administration.
"I understand the penalty comes with potential ousting from the Senate," Booker said before releasing Kavanaugh's old emails, adding, "This is about the closest I'll probably ever have in my life to an ‘I am Spartacus' moment."
After the display, however, the Washington Post reported that the "confidential" emails were already cleared for public release before Booker's dare, citing both Democratic and Republican aides on the judiciary committee.
"We cleared the documents last night shortly after Senator Booker's staff asked us to," confirmed Bill Burck, Bush's presidential records representative. "We were surprised to learn about Senator Booker's histrionics this morning because we had already told him he could use the documents publicly. In fact, we have said yes to every request made by the Senate Democrats to make documents public."
When Wall Street Journal reporter Byron Tau asked Booker whether his actions during the morning session were a stunt, the senator accused him of violating the U.S. Constitution.
Democrats knew full well that the documents that Booker and Hirono released this morning were no longer confidential, according to D+R lawmakers and aides.
I asked @CoryBooker if his remarks in committee were a stunt. He told me I violating the constitution by being in his way.
— Byron Tau (@ByronTau) September 6, 2018
It is not entirely clear what Booker was referring to, but the Speech or Debate Clause of the Constitution does state that members of Congress cannot be arrested on their way to session and "in going to and from [session] … shall not be questioned in any other Place." The prohibition against "questioning" lawmakers on their way to session, however, has generally been interpreted to apply to law enforcement, not reporters.