Senate Ethics Committee Gives Cory Booker a Pass

By Susan Jones | January 24, 2019 | 6:40 AM EST

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) has his "I am Spartacus" moment at the Brett Kavanagh confirmation hearing on Sept. 6, 2018. (Photo: Screen capture/C-SPAN)

( - The Senate Select Committee on Ethics will not take action against Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) for defiantly releasing confidential documents during Brett Kavanagh's confirmation hearing, Judicial Watch announced on Wednesday.

At the time, Booker said he knew he was breaking Senate rules, and -- in what he described as an "I am Spartacus" moment -- he said he was willing to risk expulsion for doing so.

"I broke committee rules by reading from 'Committee confidential' docs," Booker tweeted on Sept. 7.

"I stand by my actions," he said in another Sept. 7 tweet. "I released 28 "committee confidential” documents to the public yesterday. Today I will be releasing more."

And in a Sept. 9 Facebook post, Booker called the classification of the Kavanaugh documents a "sham." "I willfully violate these sham rules. I fully accept any consequences that might arise from my actions including expulsion."

The records marked "Committee confidential" involved Kavanagh's time as White House counsel in the George W. Bush White House.

In response to a Sept. 12 complaint filed by Judicial Watch, the Senate ethics committee said it had "carefully evaluated the allegations in the complaint and, based on all the information before it, determined that no further action is appropriate."

“It is an absolute disgrace that the Senate Ethics Committee is giving Senator Booker a pass for willfully violating its rules by leaking confidential information to smear Justice Kavanaugh,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.

“The Senate continues the abuse of Kavanaugh and his family by refusing to act against a Senator who, pretending to be Spartacus, violated the rule of law and our Constitution in trying to destroy him.”

Judicial Watch said Booker violated provisions 5 and 6 of Senate Rule 29, which says in part:

5. Any Senator, officer or employee of the Senate who shall disclose the secret or confidential business or proceedings of the Senate, including the business and proceedings of the committees, subcommittees and offices of the Senate shall be liable, if a Senator, to suffer expulsion from the body; and if an officer or employee, to dismissal from the service of the Senate, and to punishment for contempt.

6. Whenever, by the request of the Senate or any committee thereof, any documents or papers shall be communicated to the Senate by the President or the head of any department relating to any matter pending in the Senate, the proceedings in regard to which are secret or confidential under the rules, said documents and papers shall be considered as confidential, and shall not be disclosed without leave of the Senate.

The Senate Ethics Committee is evenly split -- three Republicans (Chairman Johnny Isakson, Pat Roberts, James Risch); and three Democrats (Chris Coons, Brian Schatz, Jeanne Shaheen).

Booker is widely expected to join the growing number of Democrats running for their party's presidential nomination.

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