In her letter, first reported by the Washington Post, King urged the Senate three decades ago to reject Sessions’ bid to become a judge.
“Mr. Sessions has used 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,” King wrote in her letter back then, which Warren read on the Senate floor Tuesday night. “This simply cannot be allowed to happen.”
But as Warren said those words, Republicans took offense. First, she was warned by the presiding officer — at the time, Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) — that she was violating Senate rules against impugning another senator.
Warren protested, saying she was merely repeating the words of King. But she was allowed to continue to talk, so she did, and Warren finished reading King’s letter.
“Mrs. King’s views and words ring true today,” Warren said. “The integrity of our Justice Department depends on an attorney general who will fight for the rights of all people. An honest evaluation of Jeff Sessions’ record shows that he is not that person.”
But a little while later as Warren continued to speak, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) came to the floor.
“The senator has impugned the motives and conduct of our colleague from Alabama,” McConnell said, referring to Warren’s recitation of the part of King’s letter that warned Sessions would “chill the free exercise of the vote by black citizens.”
.. Warren insisted that she was “surprised” that reading King’s letter would not be appropriate debate in the chamber and asked for permission to continue speaking.
McConnell objected to that request from Warren, which was upheld in the GOP-controlled chamber. Warren immediately appealed that ruling so she could finish her speech against Sessions, but the Senate voted along party lines to shut down that appeal.
Now, she can no longer talk until the floor fight over Sessions’ nomination is over. His confirmation vote is expected Wednesday evening.