What is Sen. John McCain’s problem with Sen. Kamala Harris?


Kamala Harris is a distinguished former district attorney and the Attorney General of California before being elected to the U.S. Senate from California. She has a no nonsense style of professionalism honed in numerous criminal trials over the years.

When a witness is not answering the question posed she will redirect the witness to the question asked, and if the witness is filibustering with a meandering nonresponsive answer, she will say “you are not answering the question” and try to get the witness to answer her question. All good attorneys do this. I have seen nothing improper in her line of questioning.

John McCain, however, apparently has a problem with Sen. Kamala Harris’ no nonsense style of legal professionalism. Twice in the past two weeks he has awoken from his nap time to interrupt her line of questioning and complain to the Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, even though McCain is only a guest of that committee as an “ex officio” participant as Chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Katie Rogers of the New York Times reports, Kamala Harris Is (Again) Interrupted While Pressing a Senate Witness:

Senator Kamala Harris, Democrat of California, was cut off by Republican senators on Tuesday as she questioned Attorney General Jeff Sessions during the latest high-profile Senate Intelligence Committee hearing in its investigation into Russian election interference.

Ms. Harris, a former prosecutor, employs a rapid-fire questioning pace more commonly seen in courtrooms — a style that at times has her interrupting witnesses, which is frowned upon in the Senate, where decorum is still prized. But the moments were notable as the second time in a week that Ms. Harris, who is of Indian and Jamaican descent and is the only minority woman on the committee, was interrupted by two male colleagues during a hearing.

Last Wednesday, Ms. Harris was interrupted by Senator Richard M. Burr, Republican of North Carolina and the chairman of the committee, and Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, as she tried to question the deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein.

On Tuesday, the two again interjected as she questioned Mr. Sessions over his role as campaign surrogate for President Trump and contact with Russian officials.

“I’m not able to be rushed this fast,” a visibly flustered Mr. Sessions said to Ms. Harris at one point. “It makes me nervous.”

When Ms. Harris then pressed Mr. Sessions on a Justice Department policy he cited as his rationale for not answering questions, Mr. McCain spoke up.

“Chairman,” Mr. McCain said, “the witness should be allowed to answer the question.”

Mr. Burr responded: “Senators will allow the chair to control the hearing. Senator Harris, let him answer.”

This was a mild rebuke to Sen. McCain to mind his place, “I’m chair of this committee, you’re only a guest here.”

Several observers saw a case of sexism, and some suggested possible racial undertones.

Supporters of Ms. Harris compared the episode to the exchange last week, when Mr. Burr and Mr. McCain admonished her for not affording Mr. Rosenstein the time to answer a question.

Ms. Harris was asking whether Mr. Rosenstein would give unlimited authority to Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel appointed in May to investigate possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russian officials, when Mr. Burr and Mr. McCain interjected.

“The chair is going to exercise the right to allow the witnesses to answer the question, and the committee is on notice to provide the witnesses the courtesy — which has not been extended all the way across — extend the courtesy for questions to get answered,” Mr. Burr said at the time.

Asked to comment on Tuesday’s exchanges, a spokesman for Ms. Harris pointed to her Twitter account: “It’s unacceptable that Sessions — the top law enforcement official in the country — cannot name his legal basis for evading questions,” she wrote.

Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts, endured the spotlight in February when she was cut off by a Republican: “Silencing @SenKamalaHarris for not being ‘courteous’ enough is just unbelievable,” Ms. Warren tweeted last Wednesday. “Keep fighting, Kamala! #NeverthelessShePersisted”

This time, a male colleague, Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon, spoke up.

“Again, @SenKamalaHarris was doing her job,” Mr. Wyden wrote on Tuesday. “She was interrupted for asking tough questions. I was not interrupted.”

Later on Tuesday night, Ms. Harris sent another Twitter missive: “The women of the United States Senate will not be silenced when seeking the truth,” she wrote[.]


  1. Well, for starters, elderly white men who believe that white men should rule the world do not mesh well with young, strong, ambitious black women.

    Ms. Harris appears to, not surprisingly, have thick skin. And I suspect the Senate is a steppingstone to a larger political career.

    John is the past. Ms. Harris is the future. Maybe that is what is eating at him. Despite being a senator, it’s pretty much over him, and he didn’t get to be the president. And now it’s all just slipping away.

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