Not The Onion. Following a scathing speech against Trump's nominee for Attorney General, Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell said Senator Elizabeth Warren had "impugned the motives and conduct of our colleague from Alabama," violating the so-called 'Rule 19'. By a vote of 49-43, Senator Warren was then barred from speaking on the floor until Senator Sessions nomination debate is complete (likely tomorrow evening).
Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.), who was presiding over the the Senate during the Massachusetts Democrat's speech - who at times was repeating words being said to him by GOP Senate floor staff - initially interrupted Warren to warn her that she was on the brink of violating the rule.
As The Hill reports, the drama on the Senate floor comes after McConnell interrupted Warren's speech accusing her of breaking the upper chamber's guidelines.
“The senator has impugned the motives and conduct of our colleague from Alabama,” McConnell said from the Senate floor.
“I call the senator to order under the provisions of Rule 19.”
Under the Senate’s “Rule 19,” 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."
Warren offered a blistering speech against Sessions's nomination, arguing he wouldn’t stand up to Trump’s “campaign of bigotry.”
“He made derogatory and racist comments that should have no place in our justice system,” she said.
“To put Sen. Sessions in charge of the Department of Justice is an insult to African-Americans.”
Warren quoted a 1986 speech from the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) who referred to Sessions as a “throwback to a shameful era” and a “disgrace” to the Justice Department.
McConnell defended the decision, noting Warren had been 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."
McConnell on Warren: "She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted"
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McConnell also specifically pointed to Warren quoting a letter from the late Coretta Scott King, civil rights activist and wife of Martin Luther King Jr., as evidence that she had broken the rules.Coretta Scott King wrote in 1986, during Sessions's failed confirmation hearing for a federal judgeship, that he “had used the awesome power of his office to chill the free exercise of the vote by black citizens" as a U.S. attorney in Alabama. When Warren said she was "surprised" by McConnell's actions and asked to continue, the Republican objected and was backed up by Daines, effectively ending Warren's speech.
Warren rejected McConnell's move, tweeting to her millions of followers that
"I will not be silent while the Republicans rubber stamp an AG who will never stand up to the @POTUS when he breaks the law."
Of course, Democrats did what they do best in response - unleashed a social media frenzy of hurt fellings capped by the hashtag #LetLizSpeak.
But Senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) - the Senate's top Democrat - had the last word... "If the average American heard someone read a letter from Coretta Scott King ... they would not be offended, It seems to me that we could use Rule 19 almost every day on the floor of the Senate. This is selective enforcement."