Booker's Attempt to Break Senate Rules Fails as Documents Are Found to Be Pre-Cleared

Sen. Cory Booker / Getty Images
September 6, 2018

Sen. John Cornyn (R., Tex.) and attorney Bill Burck Thursday afternoon revealed the documents Sen. Cory Booker (D., N.J.) dramatically released in self-described violation of Senate rules were already approved for release.

Booker announced this morning he intended to undertake an act of "civil disobedience" by releasing materials addressing racial profiling from Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s time as staff secretary in the George W. Bush White House.

"I'm saying I'm knowingly violating the rules," Booker said in the hearing. "I'm saying right now that I'm releasing committee confidential documents."

Booker dramatically announced it would be his "Spartacus moment," referring to the famous scene from Stanley Kubrick's 1960 film about a Roman slave revolt.

He was right in the sense that other Democrats raced to join Booker in opposition. Sens. Dick Durbin (D., Ill.), Mazie Hirono (D., Hawaii), and Kamala Harris (D., Calif.) voiced their support. Like Spartacus, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) raised her hand in solidarity soon after.

Unlike the film, however, it turns out Booker and his colleagues were in no danger. In a statement shared by the Washington Post’s Seung Min Kim, Burck revealed that the White House had "cleared the documents last night shortly after Senator Booker’s staff asked us to. … We have said yes to every request made by the Senate Democrats to make documents public."

The revelation dampens the excitement around what had been a highlight of Democrats' questioning of Kavanaugh on the Senate Committee on the Judiciary.

"Apparently, some just wanted to break the rules and make a scene, but didn’t check their email," a spokesman for Judiciary Committee Republicans told Fox News.

In the released documents, it is shown that Kavanaugh counted himself among those "who generally favor effective security measures that are race-neutral." Booker’s intention in outing Kavanaugh as an opponent of race-based discrimination remains unclear.