Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said in an interview on Friday that Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) could soon face an ethics probe for leaking private Senate Judiciary Committee documents relating to Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh.
Majority Leader McConnell told radio host Hugh Hewitt in an interview that he “would not be surprised” if the Senate Ethics Committee investigated Booker’s “unusual behavior.”
McConnell told Hewitt:
When you break the Senate rules, it’s something the Ethics Committee could take a look at. And that would be up to them to decide. But it’s routinely looked at [by] the Ethics Committee. They have an obligation to look into violations of the Senate rules, and it wouldn’t surprise me if they did.
Sen. Booker leaked documents relating to Kavanaugh’s time in the White House in an attempt to reveal damaging information about the nominee.
As Lachlan Markay, a Daily Beast reporter, noted on Thursday, Booker’s leaked documents revealed that Kavanaugh rejected the use of race or national origin in airport security screening or law enforcement in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks:
So the documents that Cory Booker violated committee rules to release shows that Kavanaugh rejected the use of race or national origin in airport security screening and law enforcement generally in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 https://t.co/aNIkqWeN01 pic.twitter.com/bhyBG17uz2
— Lachlan Markay (@lachlan) September 6, 2018
The Senate Ethics Committee runs autonomously from Senate Republican leadership, and McConnell does not have the authority to tell the committee to probe Booker’s release of documents, which is a violation of Senate rules.
Sen. Booker said he was willing to be expelled from the Senate on Thursday, referring it to it as his “Spartacus” moment. Republicans said Booker’s Spartacus moment was not as bold as he believes, as some of the documents were already cleared for release.
Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX), the number two Senate Republican, said on Thursday that Booker used his leaking of documents as a platform to help his potential 2020 presidential bid. Cornyn contended that the leak “is likely a matter for the Senate Ethics Committee.”
Booker fired back at Cornyn in a tweet on Thursday, calling the Senate Judiciary Committee’s nomination hearings a “sham process.”
“Now he’s back at it threatening an ethics investigation b/c we exposed this sham process,” Booker said.
The Senate Ethics Committee usually does not take action against senators; however, it did rebuke Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) after he was indicted on public corruption charges in 2015.