Kamala Harris says United States is potentially facing a "constitutional crisis" under Donald Trump

Sen. Harris said America faces a potential constitutional crisis due to Trump's refusal to cooperate with Congress

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published May 12, 2019 12:00PM (EDT)

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) (AP/Meg Kinnard)
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) (AP/Meg Kinnard)

2020 presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., told CNN on Sunday that President Donald Trump and his administration are creating a potential constitutional crisis through their unwillingness to cooperate with congressional investigations.

The interview segment began when "State of the Union" host Jake Tapper asked Harris if she agreed with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Judiciary Chairman Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., when he said that the Trump administration's refusal to turn over an unredacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller's report had caused a constitutional crisis.

"Listen, a constitutional crisis is defined, is generally when the system that we set up with the checks and balances, when each of the independent co-equal branches of government fails to perform its duties, and I think that we are seeing a breakdown of responsibilities," Harris told Tapper. "We saw it last week in the Barr hearing, we're seeing it in terms of a failure to comply with subpoenas. Now being a member of the United States Congress and the Senate, I am seeing up close where there is a failure to respect the significance of Congress's duty to perform a role of oversight over the administration, over the agencies. I'm seeing a failure to appreciate the importance of testifying before Congress in a way that is straightforward and truthful."

She added, "So I think yes, I think it is fair to say that we are looking at a crisis not only of confidence, but potentially a constitutional crisis."

The issue that Harris identified in her interview with Tapper has been exacerbated over the past few days. Trump and his political allies have blocked more than 20 different investigations, marking the most extensive White House obstruction effort in decades, according to The Washington Post. House Democrats claim that Trump has failed to either respond to or comply with at least 79 document or other information requests.

As the Post wrote:

The president is blocking aides from testifying, refusing entire document requests from some committees, filing lawsuits against corporations to bar them from responding to subpoenas and asserting executive privilege to keep information about the special counsel’s Russia investigation from public view. One such case will come to a head in court on Tuesday, when a federal judge is expected to rule on whether Trump can quash a House Oversight Committee subpoena demanding financial records from his personal accounting firm.

Harris received rave reviews for her questioning of Attorney General Bill Barr during a hearing last week. After Barr claimed that his decision to not charge Trump with obstruction of justice was because he thought the case against him was inadequate, Harris asked, "Did you look at the evidence from the report?"

Barr responded, "No."

Harris then asked, "Did [Deputy Attorney General Rod] Rosenstein?"

"Not to my knowledge," Barr replied.

"Did anyone in your office?" Harris asked.

"No," Barr responded. He added, "We accepted the statements in the report as the actual record. We did not go underneath it to see whether or not they were accurate. We accepted it as accurate."

Harris also called Barr out as he evaded questions about whether Trump or other White House personnel had asked him to open an investigation into anyone.

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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