Governor Charlie Baker came to the defense of Senator Elizabeth Warren on Wednesday, questioning GOP Senate leaders’ decision to rebuke her during debate over President Trump’s nominee for attorney general.
“I’m not a parliamentarian, so I’m not going speak to that,” the Republican governor said during a State House press conference, in response to a question on whether Warren should have been silenced. “I do think that the Senate has and always has had an enormously important role with respect to vetting candidates to serve in any administration. I do find it hard to believe that a letter from Coretta Scott King would be out of order in any public place or space anywhere in the United States of America.”
Warren read Tuesday night from a 1986 letter written by Martin Luther King Jr.’s widow accusing Senator Jeff Sessions, who at the time was up for a federal judgeship, of intimidating elderly black voters. That prompted Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell to come to the Senate floor and call for a vote on whether the Massachusetts Democrat had violated Senate rules by imputing a colleague’s conduct or motive.
Along party lines, the Senate voted 49-43 to find her in violation, effectively preventing her from participating in further debate over the Sessions nomination.
The King letter pertained to Sessions’ ultimately failed nomination for the judgeship in the 1980s.
Baker has long sought to distance himself publicly from the national Republican brand, which is significantly more conservative than the one cultivated by most GOP officeholders in Massachusetts.