GOP chairman cuts off Kamala Harris during Senate hearing for doing the same thing as her male counterparts

The Republican Senate Intelligence Committee chair tried to quiet Harris on Russia — but she refused to back down

By Katie Serena
Published June 7, 2017 5:39PM (EDT)
Kamala Harris   (AP/Alex Brandon)
Kamala Harris (AP/Alex Brandon)

What is it with old white dudes during Senate hearings?

On Wednesday afternoon Sen. Kamala Harris found herself at the center of an ongoing battle against opinionated old white men in Congress' esteemed upper chamber. During the Senate Intelligence hearing, the Democratic freshman from California took the mic to question Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein about his involvement in the firing of James Comey. The former San Fransisco prosecutor and California attorney general asked Rosenstein if he would give full independence to special counsel Robert Mueller in the Russia probe.

Rosenstein deflected the question -- but like the strong, determined woman that she is, Harris didn't let it go.

"Yes or no, sir," the lawmaker asked again, firmly. Rosenstein continued to speak. "Are you willing to do as has been done before?" Harris persisted, before being cut off yet again.

This time it was the committee chair, Richard Burr.

Burr silenced Harris, using his authority as chair to "extend the courtesy" to Rosenstein to answer the question without being interrupted. (Apparently, that same courtesy didn't apply to Harris.) However, Harris didn't back down, and once again tried to continue her line of questioning.

Of course, Burr ignored her defense, and actually chastised Harris for continuing to question Rosenstein.

Now, you may be saying to yourself, maybe Harris was just too aggressive with her questioning. To that I say, what about Ron Wyden? Or Angus King? Or Martin Heinrich?

Sen. Wyden questioned Rosenstein as well, at some points using the same vernacular as Harris, and no one shut him down. He even came to Harris's defense on Twitter, pointing out that fact.

Sen. King went after NSA director Michael Rogers for not answering his questions. Nobody cut him off.

Sen. Heinrich called Rosenstein out for his inability to clearly answer a question, saying "At this point, you filibuster better than most of my colleagues." No one batted an eye.

Harris being shut down only highlights the glaring inequality that still exists between men and women in the Senate and in the larger workforce. Recall how women resonated, at least a little bit, with Elizabeth Warren after Mitch McConnell silenced her? What woman doesn't completely understand how Kamala Harris felt after being told to stop talking not once, but twice?

Bette Davis said it best: "When a man gives his opinion, he's a man. When a woman gives her opinion, she's a bitch." Those words were spoken decades ago, but apparently, that's still the case.

It's 2017, people, isn't it time to put that notion to bed?

Katie Serena

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Kamala Harris R-n.c. Republicans Richard Burr Senate Intelligence Committee Video