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Senate ethics committee dismisses call to investigate 'Spartacus' Cory Booker for leaked Kavanaugh documents


Sen. Booker had repeatedly said at the time that leaking these documents violated Senate rules

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

The Senate Ethics Committee has dismissed calls from the group Judicial Watch for the committee to review whether Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) had broken Senate rules by releasing confidential emails.

What's the story?

During the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Booker said he had problems with some documents related to Kavanaugh's past being designated "committee confidential." He said he thought that the public had a right to see these records, and that he planned to release them on his own. He followed through on this promise.

"I understand the penalty comes with potential ousting from the Senate," Booker told his colleagues in the Senate Judiciary Committee during the hearings. "I openly invite and accept the consequences of my team releasing that email right now."

Booker called this "the closest I'll probably ever have in my life to an 'I am Spartacus' moment," referring the 1960 Kirk Douglas movie based on the life of an infamously rebellious first century B.C. Roman gladiator. In the story of Spartacus, Roman soldiers tell a group of recaptured former slaves that their lives will be spared if they identified the rebel leader known as Spartacus. In response, the slaves all stand up and declare "I'm Spartacus!" in an attempt to save him.

Booker also stated in a tweet that he had broken committee rules by releasing the documents.

In its response, which was released by Judicial Watch, the ethics committee said:

The Select Committee on Ethics (the Committee) has reviewed the complaint you filed against Senator Cory A. Booker, dated September 12, 2018. The Committee carefully evaluated the allegations in the complaint and, based on all the information before it, determined that no further action is appropriate. Thank you for your correspondence with the Committee.

What else?

The Senate Ethics Committee is made up of three Republicans and three Democrats. Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga) chairs the committee, with Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) as vice chair. The remaining committee members are Sens. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), James Risch (R-Idaho), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and Jean Shaheen (D-N.H.).

Booker has indicated that he is considering running for president in 2020.

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