During Senator Kamala D. Harris' 25-year career in law enforcement, she has established herself as a formidable presence in the courtroom, on the campaign trail and ultimately in government.
She grew up watching her African American dad and Indian American mother protest for civil rights in Berkeley and took that fierce fight for justice with her to law school. She served two terms as San Francisco's first female district attorney and was the first woman elected as California's Attorney General.
It's the résumé of hard-charging legal advocate, not unlike many others in Congress, where she is now a freshman senator from California. Those who know her also know she doesn't back down.
While such attributes are often rewarded in Washington, they're not going over so well for Harris - at least with some male colleagues and cable commentators. As a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee responsible for investigating Russian interference with the 2016 election and connections between the country and Trump campaign officials, Harris has landed a star role in the country's political drama.
She has used her prosecutorial background to ask pointed, tough questions - and for that she is being admonished. One former Trump campaign adviser on CNN called her “hysterical.”
To those who have observed hearings on Capitol Hill, especially high-visibility televised hearings involving partisan subjects, there has been little or nothing unusual about Harris's behaviour. Members get a small amount of time to ask questions and make their points. Unfriendly witnesses are inclined to string out their answers and let the clock run.
The result, one side rushing, the other stalling, is never pretty. The phrase, “just give me a yes or no answer,” is so often heard it ought to be engraved on the Capitol portico.
But twice now, Harris has been interrupted and chastised by male senators for her style of questioning during the hearings. It happened first last week during questioning of Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein and then again Tuesday when Attorney General Jeff Sessions was testifying.
Each member of the committee had a limited number of minutes to question Sessions, who was forced to recuse himself from the Russia investigation after it was revealed that he had failed to disclose his contacts with Russian diplomats during the campaign.
Sessions and Harris spoke over each other throughout the interaction; Sessions seemed eager to slowly and thoroughly deliver his response, and Harris seemed just as eager to push him along, especially when his responses weren't addressing the answers she sought.
At one point, Sessions said he was “not able to be rushed this fast.”
“It makes me nervous,” he told Harris.
Sessions refused to answer numerous questions from the panel, citing what he called a long-standing Department of Justice policy that prevented him from commenting on private communications with President Trump.
Harris asked if the policy was written down, to which Sessions gave no clear answer but instead explained the “principle” of it.
“Sir, I am not asking you about the principle,” Harris interjected. “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 moment, Senator John McCain, Republican-Arizona, cut in and appealed to the committee chairman, Senator Richard Burr, Republican-North Carolina.
“The witness should be allowed to answer the question,” McCain said.
“Senators will allow the chair to control the hearing,” Burr said, pointing to McCain. “Senator Harris, let him answer.”
Sessions then went on to describe the principle, at length.
Before Harris got her “yes or no” answer, Burr cut her off and said her time had expired.
After the exchange, Harris tweeted: “It was a simple question. Can Sessions point to the policy, in writing, that allows him to not answer a whole host of our questions today.”
The scene was nearly identical to one that played out during a hearing last week, when Harris was questioning Rosenstein.
From him, Harris also asked for a simple “yes or no” answer to her question, a phrasing that is routine in hearings as members rush to ask as many questions as they can.
Would he sign a letter giving Special Counsel Robert Mueller full independence from the Justice Department during his own Russia probe, she asked.
“Senator, I'm very sensitive about time and I'd like to have a very lengthy conversation and explain that all to you,” Rosenstein responded.
“Can you give me a 'yes or no' answer?” Harris asked.
“It's not a short answer, senator,” Rosenstein said.
“It is,” she said, cutting him off. “Either you are willing to do that or you are not.”
The exchange felt like a contentious courtroom battle between a prosecutor and a key witness, one that apparently irritated McCain.
He interrupted Harris and told the chairman Rosenstein should be able to answer the question.
Harris continued interrogating the Deputy Attorney General, again pressing him to give a “yes or no” answer.
Then Burr interjected.
“Will the senator suspend?” Burr interjected. “The chair is going to exercise its 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.”
As with Sessions, Harris never got her answer before time expired.
Harris spokesman Tyrone Gayle told the Associated Press that the senator “has run countless investigations, and will follow the facts wherever they may lead to get the truth for the American people. That can only happen when witnesses answer questions,” he said.
Both hearing exchanges have prompted women to discuss aloud and online how Harris's experiences with her fellow senators are only highlighting the treatment average women, especially women of colour, experience every day.
Women of color “understand what Kamala Harris is dealing with,” Tanzina Vega, a CNN reporter who covers race and inequality, wrote on Twitter. “Raise your hand if you've been shushed, silenced, scolded, etc.”
Her words were retweeted nearly 2,000 times and garnered more than 3,000 likes.
“I thought so,” she responded. “Thanks ladies.”
Later Tuesday night, during a segment with CNN's Anderson Cooper, former Trump campaign adviser Jason Miller said Sessions “knocked away some of the hysteria from Kamala Harris and some of the Democrats who wanted to make this a big partisan show.”
CNN political analyst Kirsten Powers quickly seized on Miller's use of “hysteria,” a word with historic sexist undertones grounded in a psychological disorder tied to women's physiology.
“How was Senator Kamala Harris hysterical?” Powers asked.
Miller said he thought there was no real effort to get a real question answered.
“I think she asked a lot of questions,” Powers said. “She was very dogged. I wouldn't say she was any more dogged than Senator Ron Wyden was, would you say that?” (Wyden also had a contentious exchange with Sessions.)
“I think she was hysterical,” Miller said. “I don't think Senator Wyden was trying to get to the bottom of answers either.”
“But he wasn't hysterical,” Powers said. “She was.”
The CNN commentator and Trump supporter then chimed in: “Hysteria is a neutral quality,” he said.
“And yet,” replied Powers, “it's just women that usually are called hysterical.”
Harris's treatment has not gone unnoticed.
The biggest names involved in the Trump-Russia investigation
The biggest names involved in the Trump-Russia investigation
1/11 Paul Manafort
Mr Manafort is a Republican strategist and former Trump campaign manager. He resigned from that post over questions about his extensive lobbying overseas, including in Ukraine where he represented pro-Russian interests.
2/11 Mike Flynn
Mr Flynn was named as Trump's national security adviser but was forced to resign from his post for inappropriate communication with Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak. He had misrepresented a conversation he had with Mr Kislyak to Vice President Mike Pence, telling him wrongly that he had not discussed sanctions with the Russian.
3/11 Sergey Kislyak
Mr Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the US, is at the centre of the web said to connect President Donald Trump's campaign with Russia.
4/11 Roger Stone
Mr Stone is a former Trump adviser who worked on the political campaigns of Richard Nixon, George HW Bush, and Ronald Reagan. Mr Stone claimed repeatedly in the final months of the campaign that he had backchannel communications with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and that he knew the group was going to dump damaging documents to the campaign of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton - which did happen. Mr Stone also had contacts with the hacker Guccier 2.0 on Twitter, who claimed to have hacked the DNC and is linked to Russian intelligence services.
5/11 Jeff Sessions
The US attorney general was forced to recuse himself from the Trump-Russia investigation after it was learned that he had lied about meeting with Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak.
6/11 Carter Page
Mr Page is a former advisor to the Trump campaign and has a background working as an investment banker at Merrill Lynch. Mr Page met with Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak during the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland. Mr Page had invested in oil companies connected to Russia and had admitted that US Russia sanctions had hurt his bottom line.
7/11 Jeffrey "JD" Gorden
Mr Gordon met with Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak during the 2016 Republian National Convention to discuss how the US and Russia could work together to combat Islamist extremism should then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump win the election. The meeting came days before a massive leak of DNC emails that has been connected to Russia.
8/11 Jared Kushner
Mr Kushner is President Donald Trump's son-in-law and a key adviser to the White House. He met with a Russian banker appointed by Russian President Vladimir Putin in December. Mr Kushner has said he did so in his role as an adviser to Mr Trump while the bank says he did so as a private developer. Mr Kushner has also volunteered to testify in the Senate about his role helping to arrange meetings between Trump advisers and Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak.
9/11 James Comey
Mr Comey was fired from his post as head of the FBI by President Donald Trump. The timing of Mr Comey's firing raised questions around whether or not the FBI's investigation into the Trump campaign may have played a role in the decision.
10/11 Preet Bharara
Mr Bahara refused, alongside 46 other US district attorney's across the country, to resign once President Donald Trump took office after previous assurances from Mr Trump that he would keep his job. Mr Bahara had been heading up several investigations including one into one of President Donald Trump's favorite cable television channels Fox News. Several investigations would lead back to that district, too, including those into Mr Trump's campaign ties to Russia, and Mr Trump's assertion that Trump Tower was wiretapped on orders from his predecessor.
11/11 Sally Yates
Ms Yates, a former Deputy Attorney General, was running the Justice Department while President Donald Trump's pick for attorney general awaited confirmation. Ms Yates was later fired by Mr Trump from her temporary post over her refusal to implement Mr Trump's first travel ban. She had also warned the White House about potential ties former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn to Russia after discovering those ties during the FBI's investigation into the Trump campaign's connections to Russia.
The admonishments from men have in fact elevated Harris's profile, prompting comparisons with her with fellow female Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat-Massachusetts, who was censured during Sessions's confirmation hearing earlier this year and inspired the rallying cry, “Nevertheless, she persisted.”
After a contentious exchange between Harris and Sessions during Wednesday's intelligence hearing, Harris tweeted: “The women of the United States Senate will not be silenced when seeking the truth.”
The Washington Post
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