Cory Booker releases hidden emails linking Brett Kavanaugh to racial profiling after vow to break Senate rules

Committee's Republican chair has said up to 141,000 documents cannot be made public 

Andrew Buncombe
Washington DC
Thursday 06 September 2018 12:02 BST
Cory Booker threatens to break senate rules and release classified email

A Democratic senator has pressed ahead with this threat to release emails that purportedly link Donald Trump's nominee for the Supreme Court to racial profiling, after saying he was prepared to knowingly break the rules of the US senate.

“I am right now, before your process is finished, going to release the email about racial profiling, and I understand the penalty comes with potential ousting from the Senate,” said Cory Booker, as senators quizzed judge Brett Kavanaugh for a second day.

Later, Mr Booker released approximately 12 pages of emails tied to discussions Mr Kavanaugh had on racial inequality while working for the George Bush White House.

ABC News said the move by Mr Booker came as Democrats complained that documents were still being withheld. Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley, a Republican, said Democrats who had 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 were not classified, it said, but are marked “committee confidential”, meaning members of the committee have access to them but they were not released to the public. Mr Grassley hasd reportedly designated as many as 141,000 pages of documents from Kavanaugh’s record as “committee confidential”.

Mr Booker’s threat to break senate rules resulted in Republican John Cornyn of Texas, accusing Mr 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,” Mr Cornyn said of Mr Booker, who is considered a possible Democratic contender for president in 2020.

Mr Booker said one email from Mr Kavanaugh, written while he was working with Mr Bush and which had not been made available to the public, showed the nominee was sympathetic to racial profiling by police.

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The document in dispute was a 2002 email with the subject line “racial profiling” that included internal White House discussions about whether airport security and other law enforcement should strive for a “race-neutral” system in the wake of the September 11 terror attacks.

In one of the emails, Mr Kavanaugh referred to a possible interim policy and wrote: “The people (such as you and I) who generally favour effective security measures that are race-neutral DO need to grapple - and grapple now — with the interim question of what to do before a truly effective and comprehensive race-neutral system is implemented.” On Wednesday, Mr Booker had questioned Mr Kavanaugh about his use of the term “naked racial set-aside”, and said he would make public documents backing up that assertion.

Shortly after Mr Booker acted, Mr Grassley's staff released a bulk of new emails, previously marked “committee confidential”. that had been cleared for public release.

Some speculated whether Mr Booker's may have been playing for the cameras. The Hill said a spokesman for the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Mr Booker was not breaking any confidentiality rules.

“Restrictions were waived before 4.00am this morning and made ready for release,” he said.

On Wednesday, three progressive groups – Demand Justice, MoveOn and NARAL Pro-Choice America – urged Democrats to go around Mr Grassley and release more records related to Mr Kavanaugh’ record as a judge. For the last 12 years he has served as appeals court judge in Washington DC, considered the second most important court other than the Supreme Court.

“Chairman Grassley must not shield Judge Kavanaugh from evidence that Kavanaugh perjured himself in previous confirmation hearings, or any other documents or evidence relevant to his ability to serve on the highest court for a lifetime appointment,” said the statement. “Democrats know that nothing in the Senate Standing Rules or Judiciary Committee Rules grants Grassley sole authority to designate documents ‘committee confidential’ or prohibit their public release.”

Meanwhile, Mr Kavanaugh, raised questions as a White House aide more than a decade ago about whether the 1973 high court ruling legalising abortion was settled in law, the New York Times reported on Thursday, citing more leaked emails.

The Times said an “unknown person” provided several confidential emails to the newspaper late on Wednesday relating to Mr Kavanaugh’s work in the White House under Mr Bush. A lawyer for Bush previously turned over thousands of documents to the Senate Judiciary Committee that the Republican-led panel deemed “committee confidential”.

Democrats and progressives believe if Mr Kavanaugh is confirmed, he would cement the court’s conservative bias and would support the overturning of the landmark 1973 Roe v Wade, which guarantees a woman’s right to a legal abortion.

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