Republicans Release Kavanaugh Emails After Cory Booker Threat

(Bloomberg) -- Republicans released more documents related to U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh after a Democratic senator on Thursday threatened to disclose material on his own in violation of procedures being used by the chairman of the panel holding confirmation hearings.

The documents included a 2001 email in which Kavanaugh, then a White House lawyer, criticized an affirmative action program used in federal contracting as a "naked racial set-aside." They are among almost 200,000 pages of White House documents that have been provided to the committee but not publicly released.

The documents dispute dominated the first hour of Kavanaugh’s second and final day answering questions from members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s second Supreme Court nominee, is likely to shift the court to the right.

The threat from Democratic Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey came the day after he asked Kavanaugh about emails that at the time the committee was treating as confidential. Booker drew support from other Democrats Wednesday.

"We simply can’t hide these documents from the American public," Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota said. "It is the highest court of the land."

Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican, said he would release sealed material upon request on a case-by-case basis, as he did last week when Klobuchar requested disclosure of emails discussing campaign-finance law.

"Every senator who complained about this process needs then only look to Senator Klobuchar as an example to see that my process was fair and would have resulted in public release of documents before the hearing if they had only asked me," Grassley said.

Booker cast his threat as an act of "civil disobedience." He said he was risking being ousted from the Senate, though he later said he wasn’t violating any Senate rule.

"Emails that are being withheld from the public have nothing to do with national security, nothing to jeopardize the sanctity of those ideals that I hold dear," Booker said. The emails also included a discussion of racial profiling at airports in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

John Cornyn of Texas, the Senate’s No. 2 Republican, accused Booker of posturing to build his profile for a presidential bid.

"Running for president is no excuse for violating the rules of the Senate or of the confidentiality of the documents that we are privy to," Cornyn said.

Democrat Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut later released a White House email that showed Kavanaugh questioning the accuracy of a claim that legal scholars widely accepted the Roe v. Wade abortion-rights ruling as settled law of the land.

Grassley had been treating the document as confidential. The New York Times reported the existence of the abortion email Thursday morning.

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