Epitomizing the sharp-edged partisanship surrounding confirmation of Trump's Cabinet nominees, Sen. Elizabeth Warren was given a rare rebuke Tuesday evening for quoting Coretta Scott King, widow of the late civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., on the Senate floor.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell held that the Massachusetts Democrat had run afoul of the chamber's arcane rules by reading a three-decade-old letter from Mrs. King that dated to Jeff Sessions' failed judicial nomination three decades ago. Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions is Trump's pick for Attorney General. McConnell's fellow GOP senators backed his position and Warren, who is very popular with her party's liberal wing, was construed as violating Senate rules for "impugning the motives" of Sessions, even though senators have said far worse in fiery floor debates. Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas called McConnell a liar in a 2015 dustup in the chamber.
"She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted," the line McConnel delivered before calling for a motion to stop Warren's speech quickly became a Twitter meme. The hashtag #LetLizSpeak also began trending Wednesday morning according to CNN.
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The letter Warren was attempting to read argued that “Mr. Sessions has used the awesome power of his office to chill the free exercise of the vote by black citizens.”
“I am surprised that the words of Coretta Scott King are not suitable for debate in the United States Senate,” Warren replied to Senator Steve Daines, who was presiding over the Senate and agreed with McConnell to cut off Senator Warren. Senator Warren finished reading the letter in a video later posted to Facebook and YouTube outside the Senate chamber.