Sen. John ThuneJohn ThuneWeek ahead: Robocall crackdown tops FCC meeting agenda Here's how Congress can get people to live healthy lifestyles Ryan huddles with GOP factions on healthcare bill MORE (R-S.D.) early Wednesday defended the decision to bar Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenSanders to oppose Gorsuch's nomination With no emerging leaders, no clear message, Democrats flounder Senate nixes Obama-era workplace safety rule MORE (D-Mass.) from speaking on the floor late Tuesday after she was accused of having impugned another senator.
"It was a clear violation of the rules ... rules say it, 'directly or indirectly impugning the character or conduct of another colleague,' and she clearly had done that. She crossed that line," Thune said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe."
"The whole message behind this was that the Senate's a place where collegiality is supposed to rule. There are rules. We're supposed to abide by those rules. If those rules are not adhered to, people need to be called out."
The Senate voted Tuesday to prevent Warren from speaking on the floor after Majority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellMcConnell’s gambit to save the Supreme Court paid off Overnight Healthcare: High drama for ObamaCare vote | Freedom Caucus chair 'optimistic' about deal | Trump woos right High drama for ObamaCare vote MORE (R-Ky.) said her blistering comments about fellow Sen. Jeff SessionsJeff SessionsIsraeli police arrest suspect in connection to JCC bomb threats FBI has info suggesting coordination between Trump aides, Russia: report Poll: By 2 to 1 margin, registered voters reject Comey MORE (R-Ala.), President Trump's pick for attorney general, broke the chamber's rules.
The move bars Warren from speaking on the floor until the Senate wraps up its debate on Sessions's nomination.
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."
On Tuesday night, Warren gave a speech against Sessions's nomination, arguing he wouldn't stand up to Trump's "campaign of bigotry." In her speech, she quoted a letter from the late Coretta Scott King, the civil rights activist and wife of Martin Luther King Jr.
Thune said Wednesday that Warren was "impugning the character of a colleague."
"In this case, Jeff Sessions, who most of who have served with him understand and know he's a man of absolute integrity," Thune said.
He added that the Massachusetts senator was in clear violation of the rules.
"The Senate is a collegial place, but most of us like to think of it as we're all part of a team," he said.
"And when one of your team members gets attacked, you typically defend them, and that's simply what happened last night."
He also called it "unfortunate" that more Democrats didn't step up and "acknowledge that that was crossing a line."