Sen. Booker: Breaking Senate Rules Is My ‘I Am Spartacus Moment’

‘I sincerely believe that the public deserves to know this nominee’s record’

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New Jersey Sen. Corey Booker, who began the third day of Judge Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation hearings boasting he was going to publish confidential documents related to the Supreme Court nominee, proclaimed that this is his "I am Spartacus" moment. 

Booker, eyeing a 2020 presidential run, is positioning himself as a martyr in the name of transparency. He's repeatedly told the committee he was prepared to accept the consequences for his "act of civil disobedience." Even if it means being expelled from the Senate. These comments have drawn mockery from the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Chuck Grassley, who asked him how many times he's going to say the same thing.

Here's a rush transcript of Booker's self-proclaimed "I am Spartacus" moment: 

BOOKER: “Mr. Chairman? May I be recognized, sir?”
GRASSLEY: “I hope you don’t say the same thing again.”
BOOKER: “Sir, I will not. First of all, I will say something that I haven’t said, which is I appreciate the patience of Job that you’re showing here. And I just also want to say that the representations from Senator Kennedy and Senator Lee were right on point, right on correct. They stood strong last night, challenged me, but they not only were collegial, but they looked to find a fair way to deal with this process and I want to express my appreciation. I want to clarify something that I said before. There is no Senate rule that accounts for this process, period. This is not a Senate rule. I did not violate a Senate rule. [Protester shouting] I will pause, I will pause. There is no Senate rule that I violated, because there’s no Senate rule that accounts for this process. And I say to a chairman that I respect, that I believe has been fair and good to me, I will say that I did willingly violate the chair’s rule on the committee confidential process. I take full responsibility for violating that, sir. And I violate it because I sincerely believe that the public deserves to know this nominee’s record. And in this particular case, his record on issues of race and the law. And I could not understand, and I violated this rule knowingly, why these issues should be withheld from the public.

Now, I appreciate the comments of my colleagues. This is about the closest I’ll probably ever have in my life to an ‘I am Spartacus’ moment. My colleagues, numerous them, said they too accept the responsibility. There were very serious charges that were made against me by my colleague from Texas. I don’t know if they were political bluster or sincere feelings. If what he said was sincere, there actually are Senate rules governing the behavior of senators. If he feels that I, now my fellow colleagues who are with me, have violated those rules, if he is not a tempest in a teapot, but sincerely believes that, then bring the charges. Go through the Senate process to take on somebody that you said is unbecoming to be a senator. Let’s go through that process. Because I think the public should understand that in a moment that somebody is up for a lifetime appointment, that this issue — does the public have a right to know? This is not about the Presidential Records Act. This is not a violation of the Presidential Records Act. Not a violation of Senate rules, sir. But if somebody is going to land those charges, I hope they will follow through with me and Senator Durbin, Senator Coons, Senator Whitehouse, Senator Hirono, Senator Blumenthal, now Senator Feinstein, I hope that they will bring charges against us. And I’m ready to accept the full responsibility for what I have done, the consequences for what I have done, and I stand by the public’s right to have access to this document and know this nominee’s views on issues that are so profoundly important like race and the law, torture and other issues.”

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