Kamala Harris has emerged as a Senate star amidst Russia hearings

California's junior senator has emerged as a tough questioner, often making her Republican colleagues uncomfortable

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published June 14, 2017 2:12PM (EDT)

Kamala Harris   (AP/Alex Brandon)
Kamala Harris (AP/Alex Brandon)

Democratic Senator Kamala Harris of California has emerged as a force to be reckoned with in many of the Senate hearings regarding the Russia scandal.

Harris, like Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., before her, was silenced by her Republican colleagues Tuesday, when she asked tough follow-up questions of Attorney General Jeff Sessions.  After Sessions cited a Department of Justice policy that privileged private communications with the president, Harris pointed out that Sessions was elaborating on "the principle" behind the policy rather than answering her question on whether it had been written down.

"I am not asking you about the principle," Harris said. "I am asking — when you knew that you would be asked these questions and you would rely on that policy, did you not ask your staff to show you the policy that would be the basis for your refusing to answer the majority of questions we are asking you..."

At that point, Sen. John McCain of Arizona cut her off to tell Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr of North Carolina, "The witness should be allowed to answer the question."

Harris was cut off and Sessions proceeded to finish his rambling reply, which did not answer Harris' original question.

A similar incident occurred last week. On that occasion, when Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein tried to avoid answering her question about whether he would give special counsel Robert Mueller full independence to conduct his investigation into the Russia scandal, Harris persisted until Burr of North Carolina shut her down.

He did so, according to Burr, so that he could "extend the courtesy" to Rosenstein and allow him to answer the question without interruption.

Harris' questioning earned her a flattering mini-profile in the Washington Post — as well as praise from Warren herself.


By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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