GOP, Democrats react after Warren censured by McConnell
Democrats rallied around Elizabeth Warren on Wednesday after the Massachusetts senator was silenced for reading from a 30-year-old letter written by the widow of Martin Luther King criticizing attorney general nominee Jeff Sessions' civil rights record.
Senate Republicans voted to rebuke Warren after she read from a letter that Coretta Scott King wrote that criticized the civil rights record of Sessions, Trump's nominee for attorney general and an Alabama Republican, during the lawmaker's attempted confirmation for a federal judgeship 30 years ago. The 1986 letter said that Sen. Sessions, who was then U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama, had used the "the awesome power of his office to chill the free exercise of the vote by black citizens in the district he now seeks to serve as a federal judge."
Warren continued the speech on Facebook Live, which has gotten 8.3 million views so far.
Still, Sessions is expected to be confirmed Wednesday evening when the Republican-led Senate takes a final vote on his nomination. Democrats this week have spoken out forcefully against Trump's nominees, even though they lack the votes to derail even the most contentious picks. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos needed Vice President Mike Pence to cast a tie-breaking vote in her favor on Tuesday, marking the first ever time a vice president's ballot was needed to confirm a cabinet nominee.
"Democrats have the minority in the House, the minority in the Senate, but that does not make us the minority party," Warren said Wednesday in an interview on MSNBC. "We are the party of opposition, and that is our job. But our tools are very limited, we don't have the capacity to stop Jeff Sessions if all the Republicans lock arms."
The rare move to silence a senator for impugning a fellow member of Congress sparked a #LetLizSpeak social media campaign late Tuesday and prompted a number of Democrats to defend the liberal firebrand and heavily speculated about 2020 presidential candidate.
Democratic Sens. Tom Udall, Sherrod Brown and Bernie Sanders all took to the Senate floor reading the King letter Wednesday morning without GOP objection. Aides to Republican leadership say Warren was not punished for simply reading the letter, but for ignoring warnings about being silenced and delivering a disparaging speech that went beyond simply reading King's words.