Warren’s male Senate colleagues read King letter uninterrupted
After Sen. Elizabeth Warren was prevented from reading a letter from civil rights activist Coretta Scott King on the Senate floor, several male colleagues were allowed to read some or all of the letter uninterrupted.
Sen. Tom Udall entered the more than 30-year-old letter about Sen. Jeff Sessions, President Donald Trump’s attorney general nominee, into the record Wednesday morning.
“I entered Coretta Scott King’s letter abt #Sessions into the Senate record and read it from the floor—her words should not be silenced,” he tweeted.
“I read Mrs. King’s letter about Mr. #Sessions’ commitment to justice for all. I leave it to my colleagues to assess that commitment,” the New Mexico lawmaker added.
Sen. Jeff Merkley read the letter Tuesday hoping to provide some context as to why King was concerned about the Alabama lawmaker’s commitment to the voting rights of black Americans when he was under consideration for a federal judgship.
“I wanted to take a few moments now and share some of the letter that was discussed earlier and share it in a fashion that is appropriate under our rules,” he said. “I think it’s important for us to understand the context of what this letter was all about.”
Democratic Sens. Sherrod Brown and Bernie Sanders also read from the letter in the Senate on Wednesday morning.
Warren clashed with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell Tuesday night after the Kentucky lawmaker determined that the Massachusetts Democrat had violated a Senate rule against impugning another senator.
In an extremely rare rebuke, she was instructed by the presiding officer to take her seat.
“She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted,” McConnell said on the Senate floor.
Warren is now barred from speaking on the floor for the remainder of the debate on Sessions’ nomination, McConnell’s office said. The debate is expected to wrap up about 7 p.m. ET Wednesday when a final confirmation vote is planned.
When CNN reached out to McConnell for additional comment Wednesday, McConnell spokesperson David Popp said the rule invoked to halt Warren cannot be done retroactively.
“To my knowledge, the other Dem speeches were not preceded by a prolonged disparagement of a colleague followed by warnings from the chair alerting the Senate to the ongoing disparagement so that an objection could be raised,” Popp said in a statement. “Last night, Sen. Warren had been warned by the chair and continued to violate the rule anyway. I have not seen the others, but I understand that wasn’t the case with their remarks.”
Sessions, Donald Trump’s nominee for Attorney General, has been repeatedly criticized by many Democrats amid past allegations of racism that derailed his nomination for a federal judgeship in 1986.
“Anyone who has used the power of his office as United States Attorney to intimidate and chill the free exercise of the ballot by citizens should not be elevated to our courts,” King wrote. “Mr. Sessions has used the awesome powers of his office in a shabby attempt to intimidate and frighten elderly black voters.”
By Eugene Scott, CNN