On February 7, the Senate convened to continue the debate about Attorney General nominee Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL). Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who has opposed Sessions from the beginning, took the floor to make her case — and things got ugly very quickly.
Warren was first warned to stop talking when she called Senator Jeff Sessions “a disgrace to the Department of Justice.” She quickly explained that she was merely quoting former Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA), but added:
“Although I would be glad to repeat it in my own words.”
She was warned once again to stop talking, but she continued — introducing a letter written by the widow of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, Coretta Scott King.
As she began to read the letter, Senate leadership stopped Warren and removed her from the floor:
A motion to allow Senator Elizabeth Warren to speak during the Jeff Sessions confirmation fails by a 43-to-50 vote. She is silenced.
— Matt Viser (@mviser) February 8, 2017
At that point, Warren protested via Twitter:
Tonight @SenateMajLdr silenced Mrs King's voice on the Sen floor – & millions who are afraid & appalled by what's happening in our country.
— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) February 8, 2017
Warren then went on to read the letter in full via Facebook.
Despite the fact that Warren was removed, several other Senators worked together to ensure that the letter was heard from the Senate floor. Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) read portions of the letter aloud after Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) ceded the floor to him.
On Wednesday morning, Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) entered the letter into the record and read it aloud again. He followed up with a tweet:
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.
— Tom Udall (@SenatorTomUdall) February 8, 2017
And despite continued criticism from Democrats, the Republicans insisted that Warren had only been silenced for “impugning a sitting senator” — not for reading King’s letter.