- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 9, 2018

GOP leaders may pursue ethics charges against Sen. Cory Booker after the Democrat eventually followed through on his threat to release confidential documents from Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh’s records.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called Mr. Booker’s maneuver “unusual” and said an investigation could be appropriate. Sen. John Cornyn, Mr. McConnell’s top lieutenant, echoed that.

“This is likely a matter for the Senate ethics committee,” Mr. Cornyn tweeted.

During Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings this week Mr. Booker, a New Jersey Democrat eyeing a 2020 presidential bid, read aloud from confidential documents meant only for senators’ eyes. The documents were emails from Judge Kavanaugh’s time serving in the Bush White House, and had been cleared for the Judiciary Committee to view during its considering of the Supreme Court nomination, but haven’t been cleared for the public yet.

The committee rushed to clear those documents so they would be available for Mr. Booker to use in his questioning of Judge Kavanaugh — but the senator then released other documents that were still confidential.

“When you break the Senate rules, it’s something the ethics committee could take a look at,” Mr. McConnell told conservative host Hugh Hewitt. “And that would be up to them to decide. But it’s routinely looked at by the ethics committee.”

Asked whether Mr. Booker was posturing, Sen. Chris Coons said Sunday he had to be careful what he said because as ethics committee vice chairman he can’t comment on anything that could come before the committee.

“The rules of the Ethics Committee prohibit any member of the committee on commenting on whether a matter is before the committee or not,” Mr. Coons, Delaware Democrat, said on “Fox News Sunday.”

Mr. Coons did say there was an “unprecedented process” in that a significant amount of documents tied to Judge Kavanaugh’s time in the Bush administration as staff secretary were blocked from review.

During the committee hearing last week, Mr. Cornyn warned Mr. Booker personally that releasing confidential documents could result in punishment, including expulsion.

“This is no different from a senator deciding to release classified information that is deemed classified by the executive branch because you happen to disagree with the classification division. That is irresponsible and outrageous,” the Texas Republican said.

Mr. Booker acknowledged he was knowingly violating the rules, declared himself “Spartacus,” and said Thursday he would welcome the punishment. Other Democrats rallied around him in support.

“I stand by my actions,” Mr. Booker tweeted Friday.

David Sherfinski contributed to this report.

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