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Despite the many reservations Democrats had about conservative Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions becoming U.S. attorney general, he was confirmed Wednesday evening. The night before, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren read on the Senate floor from a letter Coretta Scott King, Martin Luther King Jr.'s widow, authored opposing Sessions's nomination for a federal judgeship; King said Sessions's history of criminalizing black voters disqualified him for the job. Warren was silenced for reading the 31-year-old letter.
Sessions was never confirmed for that position in 1986, partly because of that letter. The missive resurfaced when President Trump nominated Sessions for attorney general. This time around, the letter made news again not because it helped influence senators not to confirm Sessions, but rather because Warren's colleagues forbade her to read it on the floor. Senators used an old rule that bars senators from "impugning" -- basically demeaning -- each other.
But what the Republicans didn't predict was having the words of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell turned into fuel for the Democratic Party. California Sen. Kamala Harris posted photos of women leaders such as Warren, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, and former Texas legislator Wendy Davis with these words on the photos: "She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted." That was what McConnell said about Warren after silencing her.
Warren may have been hushed by the Senate, but it gave her cause the attention it deserved. During an interview with CNN, she said, ""They can shut me up, but they can't change the truth."
Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkeley read King's letter the day after Warren was not permitted to read it. But as The Atlantic reported, "The whole thing was, for Warren, a perfect storm. It was, for McConnell, a decidedly imperfect one." Warren's name has been thrown around for a 2020 presidential run before, but after yesterday, there's more speculation that it could really happen, though Warren has denied it.
Warren read the letter outside the Senate chamber on Facebook Live, and the video now has over 11 million views.
Watch Warren read King's letter below.
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