Sen. Warren sanctioned for 'impugning' Sen. Sessions during attorney general nomination debate
Sen. Elizabeth Warren was not allowed to finish her debate in opposition to Sen. Jeff Sessions’ nomination for attorney general after the Senate voted that she had violated Senate Rule XIX on Tuesday night.
The rule says, among other things, “no Senator in debate shall, directly or indirectly, by any form of words impute another Senator or other Senators any conduct or motive unworthy or unbecoming a Senator.” The rule was enacted after a 1902 fistfight on the Senate floor.
Sessions, a Republican from Alabama, is still a sitting senator.
Warren, D-Mass., was found to be in violation of the rule after reading from a 1986 letter from Coretta Scott King, the widow of Martin Luther King Jr. King submitted the letter to the Senate in opposition to Sessions nomination for a federal judgeship in 1986. He was not confirmed for the position.
Earlier she had been warned by Sen. Steve Daines, R-Montana, who was the the presiding officer Tuesday night, after reading comments from former Sen. Ted Kennedy that called Sessions “a disgrace to the Justice Department.”
About 20 minutes after the first warning, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, stopped Warren saying she had “impugned the motives and conduct of” Sessions.
Here is the part of the letter from King that McConnell objected to: “Mr. Sessions has used the awesome powers of his office in a shabby attempt to intimidate and frighten elderly black voters. For this reprehensible conduct, he should not be rewarded with a federal judgeship.”
Warren replied: “I am surprised that the words of Coretta Scott King are not suitable for debate in the United States Senate.”
“She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted,” McConnell said on the Senate floor.
The Senate voted 49-43 to uphold the decision and bar Warren from further speaking. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-California, requested that Warren be allowed to speak again, but that motion was voted down.
She will not be allowed to speak on the Senate floor for the rest of the debate on Sessions.
“I’ve been red carded on Sen. Sessions,” Warren told Rachel Maddow on her MSNBC show Tuesday night.
Other senators reacted on social media Tuesday night.