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Mitch McConnell formally silences Elizabeth Warren during Jeff Sessions debate

Senate Republicans voted on Tuesday night to silence Elizabeth Warren for reading out a letter from the widow of Martin Luther King during a debate over Senator Jeff Sessions’ nomination for attorney general, eliciting furious response from Democrats.

Speaking on the Senate floor, Warren quoted from 30-year-old correspondence from Coretta Scott King relating to Sessions’ failed judicial nomination in the 1980s. It was part of a barnstorming speech by the Massachusetts Senator against Sessions’ suitability for the post and attacking his record on civil rights.

Mitch McConnell, the Republican majority leader, objected that Warren had broken Senate rules that prohibit one member impugning the conduct of another. Senators then voted 49-43 to uphold a ruling in McConnell’s favour.

Warren hit back on Twitter. She posted to her 1.74 million followers: “Tonight @SenateMajLdr silenced Mrs King’s voice on the Sen floor – & millions who are afraid & appalled by what’s happening in our country.” Others on Twitter were posting with the hashtag #LetLiz Speak.

Late on Tuesday night, she read the letter on Facebook Live, writing, “During the debate on whether to make Jeff Sessions the next Attorney General, I tried to read a letter from Coretta Scott King on the floor of the Senate. The letter, from 30 years ago, urged the Senate to reject the nomination of Jeff Sessions to a federal judgeship. The Republicans took away my right to read this letter on the floor – so I’m right outside, reading it now.” In less than an hour and a half after it was posted, the video had already received more than 2m views.

U.S. Senator Elizabeth WarrenshareU.S. Senator Elizabeth WarrenLearn More
Warren reading the King letter on Facebook Live.

Donna Brazile, chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, said: “It’s a sad day in America…