McConnell Reprimands Warren Over Speech Slamming Trump's AG Nominee

February 8, 2017

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) lambasted a Democratic colleague on Tuesday, accusing her of breaking Senate rules by making blistering comments against President Trump's attorney general nominee.

Sen. Elizabeth warren (D., Mass.) delivered an intense speech against Sen. Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.), Trump's choice to head the Justice Department, and claimed that he would not stand up to the president's "campaign of bigotry."

"He made derogatory and racist comments that should have no place in our justice system," Warren said. "To put Sen. Sessions in charge of the Department of Justice is an insult to African Americans."

She also quoted the late Sen. Ted Kennedy's (D., Mass.) 1986 speech in which he referred to Sessions as a "throwback to a shameful era" and said that he was a "disgrace" to the Justice Department.

After Warren quoted a 1986 letter from the late Coretta Scott King, a civil rights activist and wife of Martin Luther King Jr., McConnell cut her off and insisted that she had impugned Sessions and was in violation of Senate Rule 19. Rule 19 states that senators are not allowed to "directly or indirectly, by any form of words impute to another senator or to other senators any conduct or motive unworthy or unbecoming a senator."

"Mr. President, I am surprised that the words of Coretta Scott King are not suitable for debate in the United States Senate. I ask leave of the Senate to continue my remarks," Warren responded.

When asked whether there was an objection, McConnell responded that he objected to Warren. He later defended his decision and said that she was warned.

"Sen. Warren was giving a lengthy speech. She had appeared to violate the rule. She was warned. She was given an explanation," he said after the vote. "Nevertheless, she persisted."

Senators reprimanded Warren in a party-line vote 50 to 43.

After the incident, Warren tweeted against McConnell's move: